Josh Hamilton took batting practice today.
Yeah, yeah, I know, you’re rolling your eyes and getting ready to click over to the OT thread or the morning links comments or something else, because Josh isn’t going to amount to anything, he can’t stay healthy and is just here on a minor league deal as a bit, and so the Rangers can say the Angels are paying him to be here.
But bear with me for a moment. T.R. Sullivan noted Hamilton was “putting them in Bullard Avenue.” Levi Weaver commented on him. And he’s actually out there able to hit, at the beginning of spring training, not sidelined with the knee problem that plagued him for basically all the last couple of years.
Hamilton’s knee bothered him before camp even started last year, and when he finally got it operated on last year, it was discovered that, among all the other problems, he had a torn ACL that had to be repaired. Think about that...his knee was so jacked up last year, a torn ACL slid under the radar until they actually opened him up.
Anyway, it sounds like Hamilton is actually healthy now, or as healthy as Josh Hamilton gets. He was working at first base today, and is reportedly vying for a 1B/DH role.
If Josh is healthy, and can play some DH and some first base, there’s potentially a role here for him. If the Rangers keep Delino DeShields, Jurickson Profar and Robinson Chirinos for three bench spots, that gives them a backup outfielder who can play center, a utility infielder who can play shortstop, and a backup catcher. That leaves one spot as a wild card of sorts, and a lefty bat who could spell Mike Napoli or Ryan Rua at 1B or DH against righthanded starters could fit.
The other thing that would seem to help Josh’s cause is the new 10 day d.l. If Josh is sore or gets a little banged up, it will be easier to pull the trigger to put him on the shelf, knowing he can come back (if healthy) in 10 days, rather than 15, as was the case under the old d.l. system. That makes it less likely an achy Josh is eating up a roster spot while unable to play.
Okay, yes, its early in camp, its just batting practice. Josh has to show he can stay on the field, that he can handle first base without embarrassing himself, that he can perform against major league pitching. It certainly isn’t a given, or even likely, he’ll make the 25 man roster.
But its spring training, which means its a time for optimism...and wouldn’t it be something else if Josh could be a solid role player for the Rangers in 2017?