Josh Hamilton left last night’s game due to back stiffness

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Josh Hamilton has started the year strong, but he also appears to be starting the year in the same sort of ouchy and fragile state in which he always finds himself.

Hamilton left last night’s Rays-Rangers game after two innings due to a stiff back. Or a spasm, to hear him tell it. He said he was stiff when he woke up yesterday, felt fine after he got to the park and warmed it up, but then it went wonky as he left the batters box following a single off David Price.

He says he’ll play in Toronto today. One has to wonder if he shouldn’t take a break, though, due to the artificial turf up there, but it’s his body and he says he’s not all that concerned.

Brandon Belt, Jaime Barrios set new modern record with 21-pitch at-bat

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Angels starter Jaime Barrios and Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record with a 21-pitch at-bat in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Anaheim. Belt fell behind 1-2 and mostly kept fouling pitches off. The count ran full on the ninth pitch and Belt would foul off 11 more pitches before finally lining out to right field.

As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, the previous record was set on June 26, 1998 when the Indians’ Bartolo Colon and the Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez battled for 20 pitches. Gutierrez eventually struck out.