Josh Hamilton left Friday’s game versus the Minnesota Twins with back stiffness.

The injury doesn’t appear to be too serious after hearing Hamilton’s comments, but the Texas Rangers were already worried about his achy knee that has flared up again. If you looked at the Texas slugger’s performance lately, you couldn’t tell he’s been banged up.

It’s likely that Hamilton is going to win his first MVP award and it’s also likely that, without a healthy Hamilton, the Rangers aren’t going to be making any noise in October. 

Texas is up 9.5 games over Oakland. But more importantly, they trail the Twins by 2.5 games for home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Over the final month of the season, Ron Washington is going to have to decide what’s more important: Is it playing Hamilton and trying to push for home field advantage? Or is it trying to get Hamilton healthy, which would greatly hinder the Rangers’ chances of passing the Twins?

If Washington chooses the latter, it could ultimately mean that the Rangers would wind up having to go into New York to face the defending champs.

There’s no denying that Hamilton has been able to play through the pain thus far. The million-dollar question is whether or not his knee and now his back will be able to hold up down the stretch run.

The Rangers gave the slugger a lubricant injection into his balky knee Tuesday, which was done to try to prevent him from having a third cortisone shot in his knee. If Hamilton’s back stiffness keeps him out for a couple of days, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, considering it would give his knee some much needed rest. 

Regardless of what happens in the race for home-field advantage between the Twins and Rangers, one thing is clear: Texas needs Hamilton if they have any chance of making a deep run in October.

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