Rangers' lineup is feeling Josh Hamilton's pain in World Series
Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington said outfielder Josh Hamilton, who has been bothered by a left groin strain for about six weeks, was far from 100% during the American League Championship Series. And despite three days off before Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday, the injury appears to have worsened.
Hamilton, the AL's most valuable player in 2010, winced after taking a swing a couple of times during an 0-for-4 night in Game 1. And he appeared to have trouble pushing off to make a throw from center field.
But he was back in the Texas lineup, batting third and playing left field, for Game 2 against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.
"One game," Washington said. "He'll figure it out. I have no doubt about it. He's come up big for us, and I expect him to do the same.
"At this point of the year we've all got nagging injuries. He had one, and he'll figure out a way to get through it, and we'll figure out a way to help him get through it. He's a big part of our lineup.
"I can't afford to take Hamilton out of my lineup."
Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa agreed that Hamilton's presence in the batting order -- even with an injury -- changes the Texas lineup.
"I just know that he still scares us," La Russa said.
He'll do in a pinch
Allen Craig, whose sixth-inning pinch-hit single drove in the winning run in Game 1, started only 47 games for St. Louis during the regular season. But teammate Lance Berkman said that's not a true indication of how valuable Craig has been for the Cardinals.
"He's been getting big hits for us all year long," Berkman said. "It's a luxury to have a guy that could hit probably fourth in most teams' lineup sitting over there waiting for his opportunity."
Craig appreciated the compliment.
"It means a lot to hear that," said Craig, who tied for the team lead with seven pinch-hits during the regular season. "I've never doubted myself as a player, and I know what I can do. I've just tried to make the most of my opportunities and show people what I can do."
Washington, who had been undecided about his pitching plans heading home for Game 3, said left-hander Matt Harrison, who went 14-9 with a 3.39 earned-run average in the regular season, will start for the Rangers on Saturday, followed by left-hander Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95) in Game 4 on Sunday.
The Cardinals are expected to use right-handers Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39) and Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.79).
-- Kevin Baxter in St. Louis
Photo: Josh Hamilton reacts after striking out in the top of the fourth inning during Game One of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images