Josh Hamilton returns to lineup

Updated: May 4, 2012, 6:36 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Josh Hamilton has returned to the Rangers' lineup after missing three games with a back injury.

Hamilton is batting third and playing center field for Friday night's game against the Cleveland Indians. He was removed from Sunday's game against Tampa Bay after two innings when his back began bothering him. He didn't play in Texas' three-game series in Toronto.

"He texted me this morning and said he's good to go, so he's in there," Texas manager Ron Washington said.

Hamilton, the AL Player of the Month for April, is second in the league with a .395 batting average, is tied for the AL lead with nine home runs and leads the league with 25 RBIs.

Hamilton's return is perfect timing. He batted .359 (14 for 39) with five homers and 16 RBIs in nine games against Cleveland last season. Hamilton is hitting .451 (23 for 51) with 11 RBIs in 12 games at Progressive Field.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre is out of the lineup for the third straight game because of a sore left hamstring. He started Monday's game and had three hits. Beltre was used as a pinch-hitter Tuesday but didn't play Wednesday. Beltre is batting .317 with four homers and 13 RBIs. Washington said he was available to pinch-hit.

"It's not good enough to be out there today, but it's not bad enough to go on the disabled list," Beltre said. "It feels better than it did the last time I played. Hopefully I'll be out there soon."

Washington said Beltre had an MRI when the team was in Toronto and no significant damage was found.

"He's still day to day," Washington said. "The artificial turf (in Toronto) did him in. We'll take the time we need to get him back on the field. The soreness has finally gotten out of his body. He's headed in the right direction."


Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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