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FRISCO, Texas - Reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton homered and had an infield single Wednesday in the first game of his minor-league rehab assignment that could lead him to rejoining the Rangers next week.

Hamilton didn't have a homer in his 11 games this season with the Rangers before breaking a bone in his upper right arm. He hit an opposite-field, two-run shot to left as the DH for Double-A Frisco in the third of an 8-7 win over Midland.

A team physician cleared the slugger to play in rehab games after an exam and a CT scan showed "significant healing" in his bone.

The plan is for Hamilton to play in Frisco again tonight, then go to Triple-A Round Rock for three games this weekend. He could be back in the Rangers' lineup after they open a six-game homestand Monday night.

Hamilton finished 2-for-4 Wednesday, with a groundout and a flyball in his other at-bats. Also, RF Nelson Cruz (strained right quadriceps) went 0-for-4 in his third game at Frisco.

Before the game, Hamilton said he planned to be careful during his rehab assignment. He has been out since April 12 at Detroit when he tried to score with a headfirst slide into home.

"For the next five games, yes, I want to be careful before I get back," he said. "If I get on first, I'm not going to get much of a lead. I'm not going to be diving back, and I'm not doing any stolen bases."

Nationals' Strasburg advances to mound

NEW YORK - Nationals strikeout ace Stephen Strasburg is ready to start throwing off a mound, the next step in his recovery from reconstructive elbow surgery.

GM Mike Rizzo said an exam by the team's orthopedic surgeon went well, and Strasburg, 22, will throw "any day now." He had ligament-replacement surgery on his right elbow Sept. 3, and it is expected to take 12-18 months for him to return to the majors.

More Nationals: Rizzo also said OF Bryce Harper, last year's No. 1 overall draft pick who is hitting .366 with nine homers and 31 RBIs at Class A Hagerstown, won't reach the majors in 2011, not even when rosters expand in September. "We feel that his development is not ready to play in the big leagues," Rizzo said.

Cardinals:OF Matt Holliday was removed after two innings, complaining of tightness in his left quadriceps after making a running catch against the Astros. OF Lance Berkman was taken out as a precaution with discomfort in his right wrist in the sixth shortly after making a diving catch in right. ... INF Nick Punto was put on the disabled list with a right forearm flexor strain. INF Pete Kozma, the franchise's first-round pick in 2007, was recalled from Triple A.

Diamondbacks: The team reinstated INF Willie Bloomquist (hamstring)from the 15-day DL and called up INF Sean Burroughs from Triple-A Reno. Burroughs has not been in the majors since the Rays designated him for assignment in 2006.

Indians: OF Austin Kearns is fighting a drunken-driving charge in Kentucky, claiming the off-duty officer who stopped him was out of his jurisdiction.

Mariners: OF Franklin Gutierrez was activated from the DL and was to start in center after missing the season to date with stomach problems.

Red Sox: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka could miss a month with a sprained ligament in his pitching elbow, marking the third straight season he will be out for a significant time. Manager Terry Francona said it will be two weeks before Matsuzaka, 30, is examined again.

Yankees: 3B Alex Rodriguez might have his right hip examined this week, although he insists he's not feeling pain and doesn't want to miss any playing time. He said batting coach Kevin Long suggested he have the hip checked. Rodriguez had arthroscopic surgery on his right hip before the 2009 season.