Josh Hamilton got a cortisone shot yesterday to deal with soreness in his left knee -- the same knee that he had surgery on after the season. It sounds like Hamilton has been dealing with soreness in the knee for a couple of months, and Hamilton says in the story linked above that an MRI showed an inflamed capsule behind the knee.
Hamilton says that he has felt fine now for "36 hours" and is confident he'll be good to go this season, according to the beat writers on Twitter, but I'm not sure why anyone would believe that's the case. Hamilton started the 2015 season on the d.l., was traded to Texas while on the d.l., spent a week on the major league active roster at the end of May, landed back on the d.l. for a month, came back for about six weeks, went back on the d.l. in mid-August, and then played sparingly for most of September before starting six of the last eight games of the regular season, as well as the five ALDS games.
Even when Hamilton was on the field last year, he wasn't that good...he put up a .253/.291/.441 line in 182 regular season plate appearances before going 3 for 18 with a walk in the ALDS. At this point, the Rangers are banking on a guy who can't stay on the field, and who has a 740 OPS since leaving Texas after the 2012 season, to theoretically be their everyday left fielder.
At this stage, you have to think the Rangers have to start prioritizing finding a better Plan B in left field than Justin Ruggiano. Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara are on the 40 man roster, but you have to think that the Rangers are going to want them to get at least a couple of months of time in AAA before seriously considering them as a major league option. That leaves Patrick Kivlehan, Ryan Rua, and Jordan Danks as your other options, as well as James Jones and whatever other backup CF option the team might bring in on a minor league deal.
We discussed yesterday the Rangers' interest in Austin Jackson, and if Josh Hamilton is having to get a cortisone shot in his surgically repaired knee in January, before spring training has even started, it would seem to suggest that Jackson is less a luxury and more of a necessity. Bringing in Jackson and moving Delino DeShields to LF, with Ruggiano and Hamilton on the bench, may be the best bet for Texas at this point.