Josh Hamilton Claims He Will Slide Head First Again If The Situation Calls For It, Recaps First At-Bat Home-Run Coming Off DL

May 25, 2011 – 7:00 am by Steven Cuce

Are you kidding? This was my jaw dropping reaction along with plenty of other MLB fans after watching the highlight of Josh Hamilton’s laser, line drive, solo home-run on the second pitch he saw from John Danks. The Texas Rangers desperately needed the tag team of Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz back from the DL to give their lineup some life. Hamilton provided that boost with his first swing taken in over six weeks after being on the DL with a shoulder injury caused by a head first slide against the Detroit Tigers earlier in the season.

Another mind numbing component to Hamilton’s second pitch home-run in his first at-bat was the fact that this was his first home-run of the season giving the Rangers a 4-0 victory over the struggling and most certainly underachieving Chicago White Sox. Some baseball analysts believe that Hamilton belongs at designated hitter permanently for the rest of his career to protect his fragile physique. The former Tampa Bay Rays highly touted prospect has no regrets about his head first slide and looks to heat up the Rangers’ bats for the start of the summer.

Josh Hamilton joined ESPN Radio Dallas with Galloway & Company to discuss hitting a home-run in the second pitch he saw in his first at-bat after coming off the DL with a shoulder injury, speeding up his rehab in order to get back on the field quicker, sliding head first ever again in his career, the fine line between being less aggressive and avoiding injury and noticing that the Rangers needed his services back in the lineup while he was injured.

All this down time for you due to the injury. That second pitches come in. Could you believe what you were seeing?

“No it was a good pitch. It was supposed to be a cutter and it didn’t do a lot, but I didn’t hit it great, but I hit it good enough.”

Was there any time that you tried to look at this and go ‘Look I gotta rush this thing to get back on the field,’ and help the struggling lineup?

“I came back under the doctors orders. I wasn’t going to do anything to put me in jeopardy for being out even longer or having a setback, so the guys did good enough to stay in first place while Nelson [Cruz] and I were out. The pitching did well and stepped up and we got some runs when we needed to, but we’re in a good spot and we got everybody back now and I’m looking forward to having some fun.”

Head first slides. Will you ever do that again?

“Yeah. Yeah I still will. It’s just a reaction when you’re playing the game and playing it how you were supposed to be playing it. You know certain situations call for you to go head first instead of feet first and if the situation comes up again obviously I’m going to go head first. That situation has come up whether it be a triple and diving into third or stealing a base. Obviously I get off first base I have to dive back head first. I never saw anyone dive feet first back in.”

What is the fine line between being aggressive and avoiding injury for you?

“Every one of them [his injuries] has been because of hitting the wall or diving head first into a bag and kind of getting tagged in an awkward way. It’s all been bone stuff, broken ribs. I hurt my ribs in 2009 hitting the wall again and twice that year actually. It’s all things from trauma to my body as far as hitting the ground, hitting the wall. It’s not like I’m this little 6’0” 180 pound guy. I’m 6’4” and 240, so when I hit the ground or hit the wall it’s going to be a little bit harder than most guys.”

Did you notice that maybe you were being missed in the lineup while you were injured?

“I think it’s the whole having the core group on the field at the same time. You look at the beginning of the season, how hot we started, we had everybody out there, we had everyone playing. Hitting is contagious. You have one guy that hits and this guy hits and it goes on down from that. That’s the way baseball is. You saw it a little bit last night in that game. I would like to think I was missed, but at the same time we got other guys that can fill in and get the job done.”

Listen to Josh Hamilton on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio Dallas

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