Rangers notes: Team searching for impact bat on market

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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With Nelson Cruz facing a possible suspension and other outfielders producing little, the Texas Rangers are scouring the trade market for an impact right-handed bat.

They have identified three potential fits, baseball sources said, in White Sox outfielder Alex Rios, Giants right fielder Hunter Pence and Mariners designated hitter Kendrys Morales, a switch-hitter.

“Certainly we’d like to add another bat,” manager Ron Washington said. “We are left-handed heavy, so we certainly want to add a right-handed bat. What bat that will be? I think [general manager Jon Daniels and company] are hunkered down up there trying to figure that out now.”

Rios, who is batting .278 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs, appears to make the most sense, and is the only one playing for a clear seller. The White Sox, after all, trail by 16 games in the American League Central.

Rios, 32, is also signed through next season for $12.5 million with a club option for 2015 at $13.5 million, which means he could replace Cruz or David Murphy — both free agents after the season — in 2014. Additionally, Rios would fill-in for Cruz this season should MLB suspend Cruz for his ties to the Biogenesis of America clinic that reportedly supplied players with banned substances.

Pence and Morales, meanwhile, can be free agents after the season, and might not even be available. The Giants, who have won two of the past three World Series, were only 61/2 games back in the National League West. The Mariners are 11 games out in the AL West, but had won eight straight before losing on Wednesday.

Berkman timetable

Lance Berkman continues to take batting practice, but doesn’t know when he’ll be ready to return.

Asked if a game was in the future, Berkman replied: “Somewhere in the distant future.”

Berkman, 37, has been sidelined since July 7 with left hip inflammation, and it’s been a slow recovery so far. He did say the extended break has also helped his surgically repaired right knee.

Said Ron Washington: “It’s slow, but he’s progressing. Three or four days ago, he couldn’t hit on the field so we’ve got to let him go through the process and let us know when he thinks he’s ready.”

More injury news

Matt Harrison had no issues throwing his first live batting practice on Wednesday. He threw about 25 pitches in the session, and expects to up it to 40 in his next session on Saturday in Cleveland.

Harrison said he located his pitches well, although his velocity isn’t where it needs to be yet.

“That’ll get better as I get more time off the mound, but I’m real pleased,” said Harrison, who underwent two back surgeries earlier this season.

Neftali Feliz, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in Arizona, is making good progress, too. He is throwing live batting practice sessions at the Surprise Recreation Campus and, if he continues to progress well, could be ready to begin a medical rehabilitation assignment the first week of August.

Briefly

• Thursday’s starter Derek Holland on the Rangers’ rotation with Matt Garza: “We have a strong rotation, so instead of them always talking about how Texas always has the bats, let’s show them that Texas has the pitching too.”

• The Rangers will have a tribute to Yankees closer Mariano Rivera prior to Thursday’s game. Texas closer Joe Nathan, who pitched the ninth inning after Rivera pitched the eighth in this year’s All-Star Game, and John Wetteland, who Rivera succeeded as the Yankees closer in 1997, will participate in the ceremony.

• Tuesday’s Rangers-Yankees broadcast scored a season-high 7.0 rating for Fox Sports Southwest, the top program of the day in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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