Newly-activated Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is expected to miss a full month after being diagnosed with a Grade 2 hamstring strain, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest was among those to report (Twitter link). The slugger returned to Texas in a complicated recent deal with the Angels.
Hamilton, 34, was off to a fantastic start in his return to Texas, sporting a .273/.385/.636 batting line with two long balls in his first 26 plate appearances. With the rest of the lineup clicking, the Rangers suddenly looked like the powerhouse offense of seasons past.
Now, Hamilton joins the outstanding Adrian Beltre on the shelf. Of course, that combination of maladies — neither of which looks to be serious concerns in the long run — has also created an opportunity for top prospect Joey Gallo.
The Rangers will need to do some roster juggling, but have plenty of options. Importantly, Hamilton’s power left-handed bat was already accompanied by a combination of Gallo, Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland, and Shin-soo Choo in corner positions. Gallo and Moreland have both spent time in the outfield, and could see time there, while the club can also utilize speedsters Leonys Martin and Delino DeShields Jr. in that capacity.
Jake Smolinski is also on the active roster for another right-handed-hitting option, joining DeShields in that regard. And the rehabbing Ryan Rua is about two weeks away from a return, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets, providing another a righty bat. Kyle Blanks is also injured, and seems a bit further off.
Texas could also ultimately elect to bring back struggling second baseman Rougned Odor, though the team has indicated that it wants to see him get back on track at Triple-A. For the time being, Hanser Alberto is hitting well in his very first MLB action, and DeShields might also be utilized at his old position.
All said, an outside addition seems rather unlikely given the array of possibilities. But there will probably be more roster movement over the coming weeks for an organization that has paced the league in use of the DFA over the past year or so (due in large part to a nearly incomprehensible volume of pitching injuries).
From a transactional perspective, the biggest impact probably relates to the much-hyped Gallo, who was not previously expected to see big league time this soon. He has impressed in his first two games at the big league level, swatting two long balls (including one off lefty Zach Duke tonight) and creating plenty of excitement.
If Gallo can entrench himself on the roster, he has a plausible shot at earning enough service time to set himself up as a Super Two candidate down the road. Starting from his call-up yesterday, he can rack up as many as 124 days of big league time this year, which has been enough in some (but not most) recent seasons.
Odor, too, could see a similar impact if the loss of Hamilton frees up a place for him to return. He entered the year with 144 days of service, making him a likely Super Two, but a lengthy optional assignment would jeopardize his ability to qualify for an additional year of arbitration.