- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2011

ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - When the Texas Rangers were struggling to score runs, there was always the anticipation that AL MVP Josh Hamilton and slugger Nelson Cruz were close to coming back.

The big boppers wasted no time getting back in the swing of things after being activated from the disabled list Monday. Hamilton and Cruz both homered while in the Rangers‘ lineup together for the first time since April 12, when Hamilton broke a bone in his upper right arm trying to score with a headfirst slide.

“I think this is pretty much our first crack at really having our team, really a chance to build some momentum offensively,” Michael Young said before the game. “Something we’ve been looking for for a long time, so hopefully we can get going now.”

Hamilton got a standing ovation when he was introduced. He batted third as the designated hitter in the series opener against the Chicago White Sox. He then hit a liner over the right-field wall off John Danks for his first homer of the season.

Cruz, hitting sixth and playing left field, also got a nice response from fans before leading off the second with a grounder to shortstop. He hit a two-run homer in the sixth.

Their return was a welcome boost for the AL West-leading Rangers, who had lost three of their past four games. They scored a total of five runs in that span.

“Physically, I feel good. Just ready to roll,” Hamilton said. “My timing feels good, cage work has been good, batting practice has been good, and the games down there, I felt like I got better and better as the games went on.”

Hamilton and Cruz wrapped up their minor league rehab assignments with three games last weekend at Triple-A Round Rock after starting last week at Double-A Frisco.

Cruz was 7 of 22 overall in six rehab games with home runs in each of his three games for Round Rock. Hamilton homered twice in his five minor league games as the DH.

“My timing, my approach is right. I feel like it’s there,” Cruz said. “It’s amazing how frustrating it can get, watch the games and know maybe you can do something about it. … I can’t wait to go out there and see what we can do to help the team.”

Cruz hadn’t played for the Rangers since coming out early from a game May 3 at Seattle with a strained right quadriceps.

Texas also recalled right-hander Yoshinori Tateyama from Triple-A Round Rock. The 35-year-old reliever from Japan was looking to make his major league debut. He had a 2.14 ERA in 14 appearances at Triple-A with 26 strikeouts and four walks in 21 innings.

To make room on their 25-man roster, the Rangers optioned first baseman Chris Davis, rookie right-hander Cody Eppley and catcher Taylor Teagarden to Round Rock.

The Rangers were 9-1 before Hamilton got hurt in Detroit. They went 15-22 without him, including losing the game when he got hurt in the first inning. He returned with Texas holding a half-game division lead over the Los Angeles Angels.

When Hamilton got hurt, the Rangers expected him to be out six to eight weeks. His return came one day short of six weeks and on the same night of a promotional giveaway at Rangers Ballpark recognizing his 2010 MVP season.

“Yeah, just in time for Hamilton figurine night,” he said. “It looked kind of terrible _ they keep hiding my face.”

The figurines feature Hamilton making a catch with his arm extended in front of him.

Texas averaged just more than three runs per game in the 17 games Hamilton and Cruz were both on the DL. The Rangers were held to two runs or less eight times.

“It’s obviously a little bit easier when you’ve got two guys like that in the lineup,” Ian Kinsler said. “We just need to continue to play well, and hopefully this will give a little shot in the arm.”

Before getting hurt, Hamilton was hitting .333 in 11 games. Cruz was hitting .219 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in his first 30 games with Texas.

Last year, Hamilton hit a major league-leading .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs despite missing most of the final month of the regular season with broken ribs. He rolled his ankle and stumbled into the wall after making a catch on the warning track in Minnesota.

There were two stints on the disabled list in 2009 after separate wall-crashing catches.

Hamilton will DH for a few games with the Rangers before returning to the outfield. He said he will continue to play hard and try to be smart.

“I did that last year, and I mean, I’m going to answer these questions the rest of my career until I get 40 pounds heavier and can’t run at all, and only swing. … I know how to play one way,” he said. “When you’re in action, you’re in the midst of doing something you need to do to help the team win, all that goes out the window and you just think about doing that.

“The season is getting later. I’d like to stay in there for the rest of the year, but I can’t say I will be,” he said. “A play might come up where I go after it hard like I normally do and something might happen. I can’t not play hard.”

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