Hamilton says back is feeling better

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton felt much better Saturday after receiving two more injections in his back, and the All-Star is optimistic he will be able to return next weekend.

Hamilton, who has not played since Sept. 2, said Saturday he received an epidural for a pinched nerve and a cortisone shot for inflammation caused by what he described as a "small stress fracture" in his back.

Back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins administered the shots Friday in California.

"When I woke up, it was a night-and-day difference," Hamilton said.

Hamilton received two earlier injections, one on Sept. 4 and another Monday that didn't alleviate his pain.

After the shots, Hamilton said he is able to walk comfortably and he doesn't have pain shooting down his right leg that hindered him earlier.

"You want to hear everything can be taken care of without surgery," Hamilton said. "[The injections] hit the spot. I'm comfortable with everything so far."

Hamilton, hitting .270 with 10 home runs and 49 RBIs, has been on the disabled list twice this season.

He was sidelined for six weeks because of a torn abdominal muscle. When he returned to the lineup, Hamilton said he put more pressure on his back because of weakened core muscles.

In addition to Hamilton, the Rangers have been without third baseman Michael Young since Sept. 1 because of a strained left hamstring.

Young ran in the outfield and took swings in the batting cage on Friday.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniel said the team hopes Young can return in time for next weekend's series against the Los Angeles Angels. Texas entered Saturday two games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League wild-card lead.

"If it keeps progressing like it is, me and Michael [Young] may be making the same re-entry by the weekend," Hamilton said.