ST. PETERSBURG — Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton admits he's not 100 percent because of fractured ribs that forced him out of the lineup for nearly a month until last weekend.
"I'd be lying to you if I said it didn't hurt," Hamilton said. "It does. But mind over matter. … It's going to hurt if I swing and miss, so I'll try to do that as little as possible. It's just that time of the year. You suck it up, you get after it, because I want to be there for my teammates. I want to be in the lineup."
Hamilton, an outfielder, said he will wear a flak jacket under his uniform to protect him in the event he crashes into the wall or another player or has to dive. A less-than-healthy Hamilton could potentially be a damaging blow to the Rangers lineup. Hamilton is an MVP candidate, batting .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs in just 133 games.
However, he is a .147 career hitter at Tropicana Field and .233 overall against the Rays.
"We don't need to jump on Josh's back," manager Ron Washington said. "But just having him there, one swing of the bat can make a difference."
MURPHY'S LAW: OF David Murphy, out last weekend because of a strained left groin muscle, said he is ready to play. He isn't expected to start the first two games, but should be able to come off the bench. Murphy hit .291 with 12 homers and 65 RBIs in 138 games.
TROP WOES: The Rangers have had problems at Tropicana Field. They've are 2-10 at the Trop over the past four seasons and have lost 17 of their past 23 there. This season, the Rays swept a three-game series in mid August.
"Sometimes you have a series when you don't play your best games," C Bengie Molina said. "But I think it's going to be a very different story in the playoffs."
Still, will Texas' troubles at the Trop carry over to this series?
"Not at all," 3B Michael Young said. "It doesn't matter. They won three here and we won two out of three at our place. But none of that matters now."
NO WORRIES FOR FELIZ: Rookie closer Neftali Feliz has no concerns about saving games in the playoffs. Feliz said his approach will be the same as the regular season, when he saved 40 games.
"I believe in myself and believe everything is going to go good for me," Feliz said. "I trust in my stuff and I don't think anything's different about the playoffs."
Information from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram was used in this report.