After driving in the first run of the game for the Texas Rangers on Sunday night -- one of two runs the Rangers put up against Tampa Bay's David Price -- Josh Hamilton left the game in the third inning with back spasms after he felt a twitch running to first base in his first at-bat.
The early exit provided a nice scare to Rangers fans as their early-season favorite for AL MVP honors has proven to be injury prone throughout his career, and this seemed to be the latest chapter.
But Rangers fans can exhale, as Hamilton said after the game that he doesn't expect the back stiffness to affect his status for the team's series that starts tonight in Toronto.
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"I'm not worried about it because I didn't feel anything alarming," Hamilton said after the game. "It was a little tight when I woke up this morning, but nothing out of the ordinary -- come in, get loose and get after it. It was just an ordinary day until the spasm wouldn't release on me."
There's no doubt that the Rangers will be careful with Hamilton, who's off to a ridiculous start to the 2012 season, hitting .395 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in his 22 games this season. If the season ended today, he'd be a runaway winner with the AL MVP award. With his injury history, the Rangers won't do anything foolish, especially in Toronto's Rogers Centre, which is infamous for its hard playing surface.
If Hamilton is in fact in the lineup tonight, don't expect him to be playing in the outfield. The Rangers would be wise to use him as a designated hitter for this entire series, if he even plays in all three games because it seems like they've dodged a bullet so far.