Josh Hamilton back in Rangers lineup, blames caffeine and sports drinks for vision problems

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After missing the past five-and-a-half games with what was initially called a sinus infection and subsequent vision problems Josh Hamilton is back in the Rangers’ lineup tonight against the A’s.

However, the diagnosis has changed somewhat. According to Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas the Rangers “say Hamilton has ocular keratitis, which is blurred vision from too much caffeine and sports drinks” and “the cornea dries because of it.”

Well, that’s certainly a new one (and presumably unrelated to his tobacco issues from last month). Johns Hopkins’ website has a whole lot more information on Hamilton’s condition if you’re interested.

Craig Gentry filled in for Hamilton, starting all five games in center field with Nelson Cruz and David Murphy in the outfield corners. Hamilton is batting third and playing center field tonight and he’ll try to reclaim the AL home run lead after Miguel Cabrera tied him over the weekend. Hamilton, who has 42 homers in 138 games compared to 42 homers in 151 games for Cabrera, also ranks second among AL hitters with 123 RBIs behind Cabrera’s league-leading 133.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.