April 12, 2011
It didn't look good when Josh Hamilton(notes) had to leave the Texas Rangers' game after a headfirst slide on Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately, the worst fears were confirmed shortly after the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
What was initially diagnosed as a strained right shoulder turned out to be a much worse injury for the reigning AL MVP. Hamilton suffered a non-displaced fracture of the humerus bone (at the top of the arm), and will miss six-to-eight weeks.
Hamilton hurt the shoulder on a headfirst slide into home plate during the first inning. He was tagged out on the play, running on a foul pop-up when third base coach Dave Anderson told him to go for the score. It's not a decision that Hamilton agreed with.
"I listened to my third-base coach," Hamilton said. "That's a little too aggressive. The whole time I was watching the play I was listening. [He said], 'Nobody's at home, nobody's at home.' I was like, 'Dude, I don't want to do this. Something's going to happen.' But I listened to my coach. And how to you avoid a tag the best, by going in headfirst and get out of the way and get in there. That's what I did."
Hamilton came up holding his back and left the game. He told reporters he heard two pops when he made the slide and felt a "dull pain" in the shoulder. Initial X-rays showed no fracture, and team doctors believed there was no separation or dislocation. Hamilton even took a few swings in the batting cage before telling manager Ron Washington that he couldn't go back in.
But a subsequent MRI exam revealed a small fracture. That leaves the defending AL champs without their best hitter for up to two months. Hamilton won't be able to swing a bat for four weeks, but the Rangers are preparing for the worst.
Texas currently holds the best record in the majors at 9-2, which has already established a 3 1/2-game lead in the AL West. But general manager Jon Daniels seems confident his team can sustain success while Hamilton is out, saying "we built the club to deal with injuries like this."
Still, the team's depth is about to be tested. First baseman Chris Davis(notes) was called up from Triple-A Round Rock to take Hamilton's spot on the roster. Lone Star Ball thinks it's curious that another outfielder, especially one that could play center field, didn't get the call. But Davis' hot start (.429 average, four home runs) may have swayed the decision. David Murphy(notes) is expected to get the majority of time in left field, with Mitch Moreland(notes) also getting some time in the outfield.