Hamilton gets more time in minors as Texas return draws near

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FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Josh Hamilton says his body tells him there would be about a week and a half left in a normal spring training.

So three to four days sounds about right during the Texas slugger's accelerated personal preseason, which means one more minor league stop before he potentially rejoins the Rangers.

Hamilton wrapped up a four-game stint with Double-A Frisco on Wednesday with his first home run in his 10th minor league rehab appearance after spending almost two weeks at extended spring training in Arizona.

Before the game, Texas announced that Hamilton would return to Triple-A Round Rock for three more games starting Thursday, when he turns 34.

The schedule sets up for him to be back with the Rangers on Monday in Cleveland, and the five-time All-Star didn't discourage the idea.

"I think about four more days will be good," Hamilton said after going 1 for 4 with three groundouts.

Texas re-acquired Hamilton last month in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels, who essentially dumped the outfielder after he self-reported a relapse with cocaine and alcohol and an arbitrator ruled he couldn't be suspended by Major League Baseball.

Hamilton, who had two disappointing seasons with the Angels after signing a five-year, $125 million contract in 2013, underwent shoulder surgery before reporting the relapse. He's on the disabled list.

The 2010 American League MVP described the decision on his return as collaborative, the product of "honest" feedback from the club and him.

"In the past obviously I would have forced the issue to get back," Hamilton said. "But I'm not forcing the issue now. I'm trying to grow up a little bit."

Hamilton, whose home debut is likely to be May 28 against Boston, has been getting warm receptions from minor league crowds about 40 miles from his home ballpark. The cheers had a distinctly high pitch for an 11 a.m. start Wednesday, with thousands of schoolchildren spending a day out of the classroom.

And Hamilton, who is hitting .371 with five extra-base hits and five RBIs, isn't complaining about three more days in the minors. He switched to Frisco because Round Rock made a trip to Colorado, and now the RoughRiders are headed on the road while the Express come back home.

"I've said I'm glad to be back playing, I'm glad to be back playing," he said. "Eventually, I'll be where I want to be."

And his unique spring training will end.

"I've been going at it every day pretty much, just mentally ramping myself up because I know it's got to be done," Hamilton said. "Spring training, you've got a little more time to get there."

The time is getting close for Hamilton.

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