Josh Hamilton will miss the first month of the regular season after receiving stem cell and PRP injections in his troublesome left knee, the Rangers announced today. (Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News has the details from the team’s briefing with media.) The Rangers’ plan, as outlined by assistant GM Thad Levine, is for Hamilton to play some minor league rehab games in late April and then be activated off the DL in early May.
“We are giving him an eight-week program because we don’t want to cut any corners,” Levine said. “Last year, we may have accelerated things and he suffered the hamstring injury early and it was an issue all year. This way he will get the benefit of a full spring training.”
It’s been an open question as to how much Hamilton will be able to contribute to the Ranger this season, as the 34-year-old has battled continued pain in his left knee despite two operations in the last six months. The former AL MVP has played in just 139 games over the last two seasons due to a variety of injuries and Texas was already planning to use Hamilton in a semi-platoon role in left field to try and keep him healthy.
As Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram puts it on Twitter, the Rangers are “taking [a] guarded approach” to Hamilton’s injuries. While the team is still talking to free agent outfielders, Texas could also use internal options like Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo, Justin Ruggiano or perhaps prospects Nomar Mazara or Lewis Brinson. Levine said that Hamilton’s DL status doesn’t greatly change the club’s plans for left field since the Rangers weren’t expecting Hamilton as a full-time option anyway.