Josh Hamilton, clearly in pain, goes 0-for-4 with a K

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Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton told reporters this past weekend, after Texas had secured a World Series berth by taking care of the Detroit Tigers, that he has been operating at about 50 percent health this postseason due to a lingering groin injury.

After checking out Game 1 of the World Series, we’re thinking he’s hurting even worse than that.

Hamilton seemed to grimace in every at-bat during Wednesday night’s 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Cardinals, and he took an odd route on a David Freese flyout in the fourth inning — allowing Lance Berkman to tag first base and advance to second.

When Hamilton then sent a rainbow throw to the infield, he gave the biggest cringe of the night.

The 30-year-old outfielder is batting just .267/.286/.378 over 47 plate appearances in these playoffs. His swing is off, and it’s not hard to tell that he feels the groin strain most when he tries to quickly twist his core — as one is required to do on all pitches, but most of all ones inside. The Cardinals know they can pound him in, and they’ll continue to do it throughout the Fall Classic. Hamilton was 0-for-4 on Wednesday with a strikeout.

Texas has a nice bench, especially under National League rules. If the three days of rest leading into the World Series didn’t heal Hamilton’s groin, and it’s a problem that is only going to get worse over the course of this seven-game set, it may be time for Rangers manager Ron Washington to make a monumental change.

Report: Mariners sign Juan Nicasio to a two-year deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mariners have signed pitcher Juan Nicasio to a two-year contract, pending a physical.

Nicasio, 31, spent last season with the Pirates, Phillies, and Cardinals, putting up an aggregate 2.61 ERA with a 72/20 K/BB ratio in 72 1/3 innings. He appeared in 76 games, leading the National League.

Nicasio will help bolster the Mariners’ bullpen behind closer Edwin Diaz. It’s not known exactly what role he’ll have but it seems reasonable to assume he’ll handle mostly the seventh inning while Nick Vincent will set up for Diaz. Nicasio does have plenty of starting experience so he could also spot start in a pinch.