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.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.