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Rangers’ Hamilton sits for 1st time since HR tear

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is out of the lineup for the first time since a hot streak that vaulted him to the American League lead in all three Triple Crown categories.Hamilton was the last of five key starters to get a rest in a four-game stretch that ended Thursday against Oakland.The former AL MVP has cooled off some since hitting .467 (14 of 30) with two doubles, nine homers and 18 RBIs over seven games. The run was sparked by the 16th four-homer game in major league history May 8 at Baltimore.Homerless in his past four games, Hamilton still has a 16-game hitting streak, longest in the majors this year. He entered Thursday leading the AL in average (.404), homers (18) and RBIs (45).During a pair of two-game series against Kansas City and Oakland, Rangers manager Ron Washington has already rested Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz.Texas is in the middle of a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. The Rangers got a break with a rainout in Baltimore last week, but had to play a doubleheader the next day. Their next scheduled off day is May 24.”I said in spring training, we are going to go only as far as the guys we’re resting right now will take us,” Washington said Wednesday. “If we don’t take care of them, they won’t take care of us. If they are out for a period of time, we’re in trouble.”Hamilton left early April 29 against Tampa Bay because of back spasms and missed the next three games at Toronto, but his absence appeared precautionary because the Rangers were playing a rare series on artificial turf.The four-time All-Star played only 89 games in 2009 because of an abdominal tear and a pinched nerve in his back. He missed a month of his MVP season in 2010 with broken ribs after crashing into an outfield wall making a catch. He was out six weeks last year after he broke a bone in his arm diving headfirst trying to score on a foul popout, and had surgery for a sports hernia after the World Series.Hamilton led the AL with 130 RBIs in 2008, his first season with the Rangers. He led the league with a .359 average in 2010, when the Rangers won their first AL pennant.

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