Hamilton trying to quit his tobacco habit
Rangers slugger feels lack of discipline has added to recent struggles
KANSAS CITY -- Josh Hamilton is trying to quit dipping and chewing smokeless tobacco again. He started when he was 20 and has been trying to quit for the past few years. He goes back and forth with the habit.But, as of now, he is quitting again and that was the "obedience" issue that he alluded to earlier this week while talking about his struggles at the plate. "I understand that tobacco is just another addiction and another way to mask feelings," Hamilton said. "I don't want to do anything that can mask feelings. It's only going to make me a better teammate, family man, father ... growing in that area is something I want to do." Hamilton suggested earlier this week that part of his struggles stem from being "disobedient" in the eyes of the Lord. He did not specify how he had been disobedient and that led to rampant suggestions and speculation on the internet. So on Friday, Hamilton felt compelled to issue a statement to clarify what he meant. "The issue is 'discipline'." Hamilton said. "Professionally, it's been plate discipline. Personally, it's been being obedient to the Lord in quitting chewing tobacco. I was hesitant to address the tobacco once again, because it's an area that I've struggled with trying to quit in the past. "I wanted to have some time of success 'under my belt' before addressing again publicly, but feel I haven't been given that option with all of the speculating out there as to what the 'mystery issue' was. But there you have it -- Discipline. Hebrews 12:4-5 and John 3:30." Hamilton entered Friday's game with six hits in his last 19 at-bats. He had a four-RBI night in a 15-9 victory over the Angels on Thursday.
Washington wants a night off for Nathan
KANSAS CITY -- Manager Ron Washington said he wanted to refrain from using closer Joe Nathan on Friday night against the Royals. Nathan pitched an inning in both Wednesday and Thursday's games, and threw a total of 62 pitches."He needs some time down, so I'm going to give him tonight," Washington said. "I thought last night he was sharp until he got two outs. I'm not concerned about anything, we just have to get him fresh." Nathan entered Thursday's game in the ninth inning with the Rangers holding a 15-8 lead. That's normally not a spot for the closer. But Washington had already used Robbie Ross, Roy Oswalt and Mike Adams. That left Nathan, Alexi Ogando, Tanner Scheppers and Michael Kirkman in the bullpen. Ogando and Scheppers had both pitched on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Washington wanted to stay away from them. Washington was hoping Nathan could dispatch the Angels quickly without racking up a big pitch count. Instead he threw 29 pitches after throwing 33 the night before. "He got two outs with five pitches," Washington said. "I'll take the responsibility for the other (24) pitches. Put that on me ... I wish he had shut it down."
Oswalt helps boost weakened bullpen
KANSAS CITY -- Roy Oswalt made his first appearance as a reliever with the Rangers on Thursday night and earned the win with two scoreless innings. It was just his second relief appearance in eight seasons and he allowed just two hits while striking out two."He was outstanding," manager Ron Washington said. "He kept the ballgame right there and gave us a chance. I knew he would come in and throw strikes. I was concerned about him warming up and getting loose in a hurry and coming in to perform. But he performed very well." Oswalt is reinforcing a bullpen that has been hit by some injuries. Mark Lowe remains on the disabled list with a strained intercoastal muscle in his right ribcage and threw two scoreless innings on Thursday night for Double-A Frisco. It was his third outing on rehab assignment. Lowe is with the Rangers in Kansas City and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session with pitching coach Mike Maddux on Saturday. The Rangers will probably have Lowe throw once more on rehab assignment before activating him off the disabled list. Koji Uehara, who is on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle in his right ribcage, remains limited to playing long toss.
Right-hander Ryan Dempster, acquired from the Cubs on Tuesday, placed an ad in a Chicago newspaper thanking fans for their support during his time there. Catcher Mike Napoli was out of the lineup for the second straight game on Friday. Washington said he wanted to start Geovany Soto two games in a row. The break also helps Napoli with some issues in his quad muscles that have been bothering him lately. Washington said he is planning on Mike Olt starting at first base on Saturday with left-hander Will Smith on the mound for the Royals. The back-to-back pinch-hit singles by David Murphy and Mitch Moreland in the seventh inning on Thursday snapped a 1-for-17 drought for Rangers pinch-hitters. Murphy and Moreland both had two hits coming off the bench. The last two players to do that for the Rangers were Rusty Greer and Mike Pagliarulo on June 8, 1995, against the Royals. Greer won that game with a walk-off home run in the 10th. Dempster and Angels starter C.J. Wilson both gave up eight runs in their start on Thursday night. That's the first time since April 25, 2009, that two Major League starters have given up that many runs in the same game. Dempster was the first pitcher to allow eight runs in his Rangers debut since Elizardo Ramirez allowed nine runs in 2 2/3 innings on June 4, 2008. The Rangers are the first team to win two straight games despite allowing at least nine runs since the Phillies on June 25-26 against the Braves. The Rangers were the last American League team to do it on May 5-6 against the Athletics with 17-16 and 11-10 walk-off victories at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.