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On Josh Hamilton, diving into first and staying healthy

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A prime example of both Josh Hamilton's admirable competitiveness and reckless abandon came in the eighth inning of Texas' 10-3 victory against the Angels on Friday night.

Ground ball to third, Hamilton busting it down the line, the throw rocketing across the diamond ... and Hamilton dives head first into the first-base bag. Out.

It was breathtaking watching one of the game's elite players hustle in a way that evoked Pete Rose.

It also was heart-stopping watching Hamilton rake across that bag, knowing how he has missed 143 games over the past three seasons because of assorted injuries. He was just a shell of himself in last fall's World Series, slowed by a sports hernia that would require surgery following the season.

You bet hearts stop in the Rangers dugout, too.

Manager Ron Washington has spoken with Hamilton about diving into first.

"Just keep telling him not to do it," Washington says. "When a guy smells a hit, he reacts. Yes, we want him to stop doing it. But if he does it, I'm not going to pull him out of the game. I just hope he doesn't get hurt.

"We do tell him to stop doing it. We don't need him to lose a finger. But when you're competing and you're smelling things, you do what you've got to do."

Washington recalls that he once threatened Hamilton with the notion of being benched for a game if he didn't stop with the the diving.

And?

"Didn't work," Washington says.

The skipper says he threatens Hamilton often.

"Every day," Washington says. "Stop the diving into first base. But when he smells a hit, that's what he does. 'I'm just playing the game, Skip.'...

"There's a lot of poundage hitting the ground at first base. ... When you smell a hit, that's what you do. Do what you've got to do."

Likes: Baseball fever in Texas. The Rangers have done a beautiful job of growing this area's love for the sport. Nine consecutive sellouts in football territory, not too shabby. ... The seafood gumbo and shrimp creole at Razzoo's in Fort Worth's Sundance Square. ... The beef brisket at Eddie Deen's Crossroads barbecue. ... Running along the Trinity Trails in Fort Worth. ... I turn the dial whenever one of his songs comes on the radio, but props to Phil Collins for his love of the Alamo. Collins has what is believed to be the largest private collection of Alamo stuff in the world and has a new book out on the topic.

Dislikes: Mother's Day in Texas, instead of with my wife and daughter ... or even my own mother. I just passed on to my wife what Ron Washington says: "That's the way baseball go." And she's very understanding.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I remember when rock was young
"Me and Susie had so much fun
"Holding hands and skimming stones
:Had an old gold Chevy and a place of my own"

-- Elton John, Crocodile Rock
 
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