CLEVELAND – Josh Hamilton has played in two World Series, appeared in five All-Star Games and won a Most Valuable Player Award. Yet he still had to fight off nerves in his return to the majors Monday.
"It was good to get the first at-bat out of the way, I was a little nervous up there," Hamilton said after making his season debut in the Rangers' sixth consecutive victory, 10-8 over the Cleveland Indians. "After that, second at-bat I was feeling pretty good. It was just good to be out there. It was good to feel the energy in the dugout."
Hamilton, slowed this season by shoulder surgery, was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk and scored a run. He also reached on a key error in the seventh inning that led to the winning run as Texas ended Cleveland's six-game winning streak.
The 2010 AL MVP came up with runners on first and second and two outs in the seventh inning with the score 8-8. He hit an easy tapper back to pitcher Zach McAllister, whose throw was well over the head of first baseman Carlos Santana for a two-base error. Prince Fielder scored.
Hamilton was traded from the Angels back to Texas in late April. He finished a minor league rehab assignment Saturday.
The Rangers didn't arrive in Cleveland until 4 a.m. after completing a three-game sweep in Yankee Stadium on Sunday night, but they looked like a refreshed bunch in Hamilton's return.
"Mentality's everything," he said. "You start winning some ballgames, guys get a lot of confidence. It goes from hitting to pitching to playing defense, so I like it, man. I like winning and the situation I'm in. Guys are hungry, and I want to go out there and fight and play hard and have fun."
Rangers manager Jeff Banister told Hamilton before the game to fit in and play his game.
"First major league game back, looked fine," Banister said. "More than anything else had a great smile on his face, had some energy."