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10/01/10 12:26 AM ET

Hamilton returns to Rangers for Hunter's tuneup

As it turns out, the Rangers won't be going to a three-man rotation like they originally anticipated. Texas announced Thursday that Tommy Hunter will start Game 4, if necessary, in the American League Division Series, rather than use Cliff Lee on three days' rest for the first time in his career.

Hunter will start on Friday against the Angels in lieu of Derek Holland, who won't be starting again this season. Hunter joins Lee, Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson in the Rangers' postseason rotation.

"He'll go as long as he's effective," manager Ron Washington said. "He's a kid that competes."

Hunter has had bouts of inconsistency this year, but sports an impressive 13-4 record despite making his season debut on June 5. In his latest start, Hunter threw 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the A's on Sept. 24 in a 10-3 victory.

The Rangers are also expected to get an added boost from AL Most Valuable Player candidate Josh Hamilton. Washington said Hamilton will play in the final three regular season games after sitting out nearly four weeks with two broken ribs.

While the Rangers are caught up in their playoff plans, the Angels are far from it. Engaged in a battle for second place in the AL West with Oakland, Los Angeles will watch the postseason from home for the first time since 2006.

"No matter what happens this weekend, it's been a frustrating season," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think we're all disappointed where we are. There's some room for improvement, and that's what we're going to look into. We'll continue to try to win games every day. The quest for a championship never stops, even after you've been eliminated. You start working on the next one."

Jered Weaver would like to close his season on a high note. Not only does he have a chance to win his 14th decision and finish with a sub-3 ERA, but he sits three strikeouts behind Felix Hernandez -- who will not start on Sunday -- for the Major League lead.

Angels: Haren may not start the finale
Los Angeles is unsure whether Dan Haren, who has pitched 222 innings this year, will start the season finale against the Rangers on Sunday.

"Dan threw a bullpen and felt good," Scioscia said. "We'll see where we are on Sunday. He's got a lot of innings under his belt, that's for sure."

Rangers: Murphy sitting
Outfielder David Murphy will sit out the weekend series with a strained left groin muscle, but he is expected to be ready for the ALDS.

"It's definitely something that's going to be manageable," Murphy said. "Right now, I'm just going to wait a few days, and we'll figure out where to go from there -- if I need to get a cortisone shot. ... It's sore right now, but for a strained muscle, there are a lot of reasons for optimism."

Worth noting
Texas infielder Jorge Cantu and outfielder Jeff Francoeur sat out of Thursday's contest due to illnesses. ... Hamilton is expected to play six innings in the field on Friday before being designated hitter on Saturday and playing in the field again on Sunday. ... The Angels announced a two-year player development deal Thursday with Class A Advanced Inland Empire.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.