Josh Hamilton is making his return to the Rangers today, starting in left field and batting fifth against the Indians in Cleveland.
In returning from both shoulder surgery and relapses in substance abuse it’ll be Hamilton’s first MLB game action since last October and his first start for the Rangers since the 2012 playoffs.
Acquired by the Rangers for a fraction of his remaining contract when the Angels decided to part ways with the former MVP regardless of cost, Hamilton hit .364 with one homer, five doubles, and a .937 OPS in a 12-game minor league rehab assignment at Double-A and Triple-A.
Last time he started in left field and batted fifth for the Rangers? July 27, 2010, when Texas’ lineup also included Michael Young, Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, Bengie Molina, and Chris Davis.
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.