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Josh Hamilton's knee is hurting again

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Josh Hamilton's surgically repaired knee is hurting again, despite getting a cortisone shot last month

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Josh Hamilton has reportedly early to the Texas Rangers' spring training camp in Surprise, Arizona.  Unfortunately, Hamilton is also reporting pain in his surgically repaired left knee.

The timeline on Hamilton's knee is that he had surgery after the season, but started experiencing pain a couple of weeks later, which resulted in him getting a cortisone shot in late January.  The hope was that the shot would fix the problem, but just three weeks later, the pain has apparently returned.  Cortisone shots can generally only be administered every four to six months, so another shot won't be an option for a while.

The knee pain is after what was essentially a lost 2015 season for Hamilton.  He had a .253/.291/.441 line in 182 plate appearances in the regular season, then was 3 for 18 in the ALDS.  Hamilton started the 2015 season on the disabled list, was activated from the d.l. in late May, was active for a week before a hamstring issue landed him back on the disabled list, spent six weeks on the active roster, went back on the d.l. in August, and then was activated in September, though he didn't play much.

The fact that Hamilton, after spending so much time on the shelf last year, and after having offseason knee surgery, is dealing with pain before spring training even starts doesn't bode well for the prospects of him contributing significantly this season.  While I have no doubt Hamilton will try to get ready and play through the pain, at this point, you have to think that the Rangers need to anticipate playing the 2016 season without Hamilton.

No Hamilton would put the Rangers in a difficult position in regards to the outfield in 2016.  Justin Ruggiano is the fourth outfielder, although he's also anticipated to potentially get time against lefthanded pitchers at first base.  Ryan Rua started the 2015 season as the everyday leftfielder, but he also had essentially a lost 2015 due to injuries and ineffectiveness.  Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara both are players who should start the year in AAA, and Patrick Kivlehan is probably not ready yet.

So the Rangers are in a bit of a predicament if Hamilton isn't going to be ready to go to start the season.  The best case, in the absence of Hamilton, would likely be for Nomar Mazara to seize a roster spot with a great camp.  Otherwise, you have to hope the front office can talk Ray and Bob into freeing up enough cash to go sign Austin Jackson.