Hamilton good; shoots for Friday. Lowe for Francisco?

Busy Wednesday morning

* Josh Hamilton took 50 swings on Wednesday morning before going out and running the bases. He took 10 swings off the tee and 40 off soft toss pitching. He felt so good, he didn’t rule out taking more batting practice later.

Hamilton is hoping to take regular batting practice on Thursday and possibly be the Rangers designated hitter on Friday against the Angels.

* Frank Francisco is not going to be ready for the first round of the playoffs. The MRI showed improvement but he is not ready to return to the mound. He has been sidelined since Aug. 28 with a strained muscle in the right side of his ribcage. He will spend the first round of the playoffs in Surprise trying to get ready if the Rangers advance.

* Mark Lowe has been activated off the 60-day disabled list. He will pitch Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The Rangers are going to take a hard look at this guy and see if he can replace Francisco in the bullpen. He had back surgery earlier this year but when he’s right, he can throw 96 miles per hour – right up there with Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando – with a heavy sinker.

This is going to be a serious audition although club officials privately aren’t getting overly optimistic. He hasn’t pitched in four months.

* Elvis Andrus is out of the lineup again. Manager Ron Washington is concerned that he is physically worn down and wants to get him right for the playoffs. Andres Blanco is at shortstop.


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