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Associated Press Texas Rangers' Ian Kinsler slaps Elvis Andrus, right, on the back of the neck as they take batting practice Friday in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers play St. Louis in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday.

Hamilton gets excused absence from Series

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Hamilton gets excused absence from Series
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

By Jaime Aron

AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Josh Hamilton was an excused absence from the World Series on Friday.

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Actually, Hamilton was following orders by staying home and resting up for Game 3 on Saturday.

Rangers manager Ron Washington told his star outfielder to get as much rest as possible for the groin strain that's lately robbed him of his power. A week before, the Rangers had an optional workout before Game 6 of the AL championship series and Hamilton used that as another day of at-home recovery.

Hamilton has yet to hit a home run in 48 at-bats during this postseason. Yet he was still able to muscle a fly ball deep enough in the ninth inning of Game 2 to produce a sacrifice fly that drove in the tying run.

Washington could save some of the wear and tear on Hamilton's legs by using him strictly as a designated hitter. But that's not going to happen. It's worth noting that Hamilton's range in the field has been fine.

"We've got five games (left), I'm not sitting him," Washington said.

Accountability questioned

Albert Pujols wasn't available to reporters after Game 2 to discuss his ninth-inning fielding error that helped turn a 1-0 St. Louis lead into a 2-1 loss.

On Friday, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said the only reason Pujols and other key players left before reporters were allowed into the clubhouse was because "it was 40 minutes before anybody let anybody know that they wanted to talk to those guys."

"If anybody had said, 'We need to talk to Albert,' he would have stayed," La Russa said.

La Russa added that players were in a hurry because it was a night game followed by a flight to Texas.

"They wanted to pack for their families," he said.

Stories have been written criticizing the players and the organization for lacking accountability. La Russa didn't like that because he said the club has a history of being very accessible for reporters.

"We're willing to live up to it, but somebody has got to be fair with us," he said. "I heard the criticism, and it offends me because I know our attitude as an organization is 180 degrees different from the way it's being portrayed. Nobody asked for those guys, and they got out of there. They had other things to do."

Titletown

Dallas-Fort Worth sports fans are enjoying an embarrassment of riches.

In February, the Super Bowl was played at Cowboys Stadium. In June, the Mavericks won the NBA finals. Now, the Texas Rangers are in the World Series.

The overlap is unprecedented. No metropolitan area has ever hosted those three events in the same calendar year. Throw in TCU winning the Rose Bowl in January, and it's even more impressive.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban got the community-wide pride going after the ALCS when he tweeted, "DFW could be Titletown USA, GO RANGERS !!"

Imagine how much stronger enthusiasm would be in these parts if the Dallas Cowboys weren't in the longest stretch between championships in their history. The Stars of the NHL are going through hard times, too, but they won the Stanley Cup more recently than the Cowboys won the Super Bowl.

Cooperstown bound

Win or lose in the World Series, the Texas Rangers are going to be well represented in the Baseball Hall of Fame's 2011 postseason gallery.

Brad Horn, the Hall's senior director of communications, gathered the following goodies Friday:

n Nelson Cruz's bat and batting glove from the grand slam he hit to end Game 2 of the AL championship series. It was the first time any postseason game ended with a grand slam.

n Cruz's jersey from Game 6 of the ALCS, representing a series in which he set postseason records with six homers and 13 RBIs.

n Adrian Beltre's jersey from Game 4 of the AL division series, when he became only the sixth player to hit three homers in a postseason game.

Horn has yet to collect anything from the Cardinals, or any other postseason participants. He said the feats by Cruz and Beltre are spectacular enough to be on display regardless of how the World Series turns out.

Musical mojo

Rangers manager Ron Washington had two glorious things awaiting him on his desk when he returned to Rangers Ballpark on Friday.

The AL championship trophy. And "The Best of Soul Train," a boxed set of DVDs.

"Thank (team broadcaster) Eric Nadel for the Soul Train tapes, and thank the players in that clubhouse for the trophy," Washington said.

So, which did he prize the most?

"Soul Train," he said, laughing. Then Washington did his best Don Cornelius imitation and roared, "Sooooouuuuuuuulllllllllll Train!"

Ceremonial lineup

The Texas Rangers have announced a pitching rotation featuring Dirk Nowitzki, former President George W. Bush, Nolan Ryan, Roger Staubach and former Rangers left-hander Kenny Rogers.

Nowitzki, Bush and Staubach will throw out the ceremonial pitches before Games 3, 4 and 5 of the World Series. Ryan will catch Bush's toss, and Rogers will receive from Staubach. Rangers star Michael Young will be Nowitzki's catcher.

Ratings report

Texas' 2-1 victory in Game 2 on Fox on Thursday night got an 8.9 rating and 14 share, up 5 percent from the 8.5/14 for San Francisco's 9-0 win over the Rangers in the second game last year. It marked the first time in four years that Game 2 received a higher rating than the opener.

Through two games the Series is averaging an 8.8/14, up 1 percent from an 8.7/15 last year.

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