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Tests show Rangers' Hamilton has two broken ribs wire reports

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Josh Hamilton hopes to return to the Rangers' lineup before the end of the regular season despite tests Tuesday revealing the Texas slugger has two broken ribs.

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Hamilton is the majors' leading hitter (.361) and a top AL MVP candidate, but the outfielder hasn't played for the AL West-leading Rangers since crashing into a wall while making a catch Sept. 4 at Minnesota.

Hamilton was optimistic after the source of his rib pain finally was diagnosed during a second day of evaluation with Dr. Robert Watkins in California on Tuesday.

"There's really no difference in the treatment for it, whether they're broken or just bruised," Hamilton said in the clubhouse before the Rangers' game against the Los Angeles Angels. "It's mostly just good to have confirmation of why I was in so much pain. Now we can take care of it the way we need to, and do it as quick as we can."

Hamilton has 31 homers -- one shy of his career high -- and 97 RBI in 130 games.

Watkins' tests found the "small stable fracture in the seventh and eighth ribs" that two previous X-rays and an MRI didn't reveal on Monday. The outfielder had already been dealing with stiffness in his back when he crashed into the wall 2 ½ weeks ago.

General manager Jon Daniels said Hamilton was given an anti-inflammatory injection and an epidural nerve-block injection for pain.

"It is typically 48-72 hours before it's known whether this treatment has the desired effect," Daniels wrote in an e-mail. "Once the discomfort recedes to a point where Josh is comfortable, he can return to baseball activities."

If the shots work, Hamilton believes he can manage the pain well enough to get back in the lineup during Texas' final homestand of the regular season before what is likely to be the first playoff appearance since 1999 for a franchise that has never won a postseason series.

"I have a lot of optimism, but I'm just going to stay focused on the treatment and let the shots work," Hamilton said. "We're going to do a slow, but quick, buildup to the playoffs, if that makes sense."

The former No. 1 overall draft pick has dealt with significant injuries before. He was hampered by bruised ribs and a torn abdominal muscle last season after leading the AL with 130 RBI in 2008.

The Rangers probably won't need Hamilton's help to close out their first division title in 11 years. They headed into Tuesday night's game with a comfortable eight-game lead over Oakland with 13 games to play, going 8-6 in Hamilton's absence.

Hamilton had two cortisone shots last week to help relieve pain in his ribs, getting the treatment one day after he felt recurring pain when taking some swings in the batting cage.

Manager Ron Washington figures the slugger will need no more than 30 at-bats to get back into his groove, but wouldn't hesitate to play Hamilton in the postseason even if he can't return during the regular season.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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