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Hamilton Back in Lineup Friday; Murphy Out

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 13: Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers at bat during a Spring Training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 13, 2009 at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

    Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton will return to the lineup Friday night for the AL West champions, while outfielder David Murphy will be held out until the playoffs.

    Murphy has a strained left groin, although an MRI shows no tear. Manager Ron Washington says Murphy will be held out of the four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels that will wrap up the regular season, and he should be ready to play next week.

    Hamilton's been out since breaking two ribs Sept. 4 while crashing into an outfield wall making a catch at Minnesota. He's scheduled to play six innings in the outfield Friday night. Plans are for him to be designated hitter Saturday and play the outfield again Sunday.

    Hamilton leads the majors with a .361 average. He has 31 home runs and 97 RBIs.

    Hamilton said he is excited about being able to play again. He took 60 swings in the batting cage Thursday without any pain, including 30 pitches from hitting coach Clint Hurdle after 30 soft tosses.

    Washington said the plan is for Hamilton to be the designated hitter Saturday and play in the field again Sunday in the regular-season finale.

    The Rangers open the playoffs Wednesday on the road against either Tampa Bay or the New York Yankees.

    Murphy left Wednesday's 6-5 victory over Seattle. He reached base on an error in the second inning, and aggravated his groin running to second base when a ball was fouled off.

    Murphy, hitting .291 with 12 homers and 65 RBIs in 138 games, said he was told to rest for a couple of days before trying to test his groin. He described it as a mild strain. He has hit .357 over his last 24 games.