Hamilton hurting -- headed for DL?

You know a guy's hurting when it hurts to breathe ...

    ARLINGTON, Texas -- Josh Hamilton was out of the Texas Rangers' starting lineup for the third straight game Tuesday and could be headed to the disabled list because of bruised ribs that are not feeling any better.
    "Extreme pain, no matter what I do," Hamilton said in the clubhouse before the start of a three-game series against Oakland. "Just standing here, it hurts. Taking deep breaths. Running, throwing, hitting, everything hurts."

    The All-Star center fielder bruised his ribs when he ran into the outfield wall in Toronto a week ago. His elbow folded into the left side of his body and his rib cage while he was feeling for the wall.


    "I probably need to rest it and let it heal," Hamilton said. "I battled through the last four or five days, did everything I could to help it and pain tolerance-wise to get through it. ... If I'm out there, I'm not going to play not to get hurt. I'm going to play full out."

If you look at Hamilton's splits from last season, you might guess that he's been sort of struggling ever since that amazing performance in the Home Run Derby. In the first half of last season, he totaled 46 extra-base hits in 93 games; in the second half, only 26 long hits in 63 games. Throw in this year's struggles, and he's batted just .284/.357/.473 since the 2008 All-Star Game. Good, but not great. Did all those fake home runs throw him off?
Probably not. Splitting the season can be interesting but it's also somewhat arbitrary. He did well immediately after the All-Star Game, did struggle for a few weeks in August, then batted .366/.443/.516 in September. Granted, he hit only two homers that month, but on balance there's nothing at all odd about Hamilton's splits last season. Just the usual highs and lows and middles of your typical outstanding hitter.

This season's different. Hamilton's obviously not right, and his likely DL stint looks like the necessary first step toward getting back to where he was.