ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton got the day off and was not in the lineup for Saturday’s game with the Chicago White Sox, one day after hearing boos from some of the sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington during the club’s 9-5 loss on Friday.
“I thought he needed a mental break,” manager Ron Washington said. “That’s it.”
Washington said he didn’t tell Hamilton last night that he wouldn’t be playing today because he knew Hamilton would try to talk him out of it.
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“I wanted to do this,” Washington said. “I just thought it was time that I give him a break.”
Hamilton is batting just .145 with three homers, 10 RBIs, 20 strikeouts and six walks in July, with his batting average dipping to a season-low .284. He went 0-for-4 with two RBIs and had a rough game defensively in Friday’s loss to the White Sox, causing some fans to boo the outfielder after he struck out on three pitches with runners in scoring position in the fifth inning.
The outfielder said he was “disappointed” by the boos after the game, but was upbeat on Saturday and vowed to get things going again.
“It’s going to be good folks,” said Hamilton, who gave a thumbs up and smiled for the cameras. “Fans out there: It’s going to be good. Just hang in there.”
Hamilton, who said he spent two hours in the batting cage on Saturday, was asked about the past week for him, which included a frustrating time at the plate and CEO Nolan Ryan’s comments that Hamilton sometimes gives at-bats away.
“It is what it is, man,” Hamilton said. “I’ve been through worse things. I play games for a living. Whatever the president of the team is saying, it’s not going to hurt my feelings. Fans booing me, I’m not going to lose any sleep over. Not being in the lineup — it sucks. I want to be in there every day and help my team win, but when you’re struggling or going through tough times, people try to figure out how to help.”
Washington said he was surprised to hear the fans boo Hamilton, but said it was their way of voicing their “dissatisfaction.”
“I have no problem with that because they boo me,” Washington said. “They do love Josh. Even though they booed him, they still love him.”
Hamilton has slumped for two months now, hitting .223 in June. The struggles for the 2010 AL MVP came after he was AL player of the month in April and May and led all three Triple Crown categories at one point.
Hamilton hinted there was more to his slump, though he didn’t share details.
“The frustrating part is dealing with (the media) and not being able to share everything with you guys,” Hamilton said. “When the time is right, you guys will be right in the loop.”
Hamilton said he’s working in the batting cages with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and is trying a variety of drills designed to help him find a consistent, comfortable hitting zone. He’s also trying to lay off breaking pitches well out of the strike zone, something he hasn’t been able to do with regularity the past few months.
He said he won’t let the boos bother him and just wants to improve.
“I don’t take anything personal with the fans,” Hamilton said Friday. “I just don’t. There’s a lot more encouraging me than are discouraging.”
“I think the focus has been on everybody,” Washington said. “It’s been on Napoli, it’s been on Michael, it’s been on Cruz. But Hamilton is, like Reggie (Jackson) said: He’s the straw that stirs the drink.”
Washington said he’d used Hamilton in a pinch-hitting situation. He moved Adrian Beltre, the club’s most consistent hitter this season, to the No. 3 spot that Hamilton usually occupies. Cruz, who has three homers in his last five games, bats cleanup and David Murphy is in the 5-hole to break up the right-handed hitters.
Hamilton out of lineup a day after hearing boos
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