With the Texas Rangers in the midst of a heated battle for the AL West crown and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, this is the absolute worst time for injuries to pop up.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, the team will be without superstar slugger Josh Hamilton for their three-game series against the Seattle Mariners as he recovers from a sinus infection, according to ESPN Dallas' Taylor Soper.
The 31-year-old outfielder had reportedly been having blurred vision and returned to Texas for additional testing.
The warning signs came before Thursday's series finale against the Angels. Manager Ron Washington said that Hamilton was falling off balance while taking grounders. He then had trouble judging fly balls, and that was the last straw.
For the Rangers, Hamilton's infection comes at the worst possible time. The free-agent-to-be has been fantastic throughout 2012 for Texas, hitting .287 with 42 home runs (most in the AL) and 123 RBI. Hamilton is also the lifeblood of the offense, seemingly coming through in the clutch anytime his teammates need him.
What's more, third baseman Adrian Beltre was also out of the lineup on Friday due to an intestinal issue, though he is expected back Saturday (via Soper).
Though it is almost impossible for Texas to miss the playoffs with so few games left, Hamilton's absence (if it stretches past this weekend) could put the division in jeopardy. The Oakland Athletics, who sit just four games behind heading into Friday's action, have a four-game series against the Rangers beginning Monday.
If Hamilton is unable to get healthy, it could create a myriad of problems for the Texas lineup. The Athletics have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball and possess the talent to turn the division into a nail-biter.
Nevertheless, this is a critical issue at the worst possible time for a Texas team with World Series aspirations.