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July 24, 2013

Three hitters targeted by Rangers for trade

The Rangers, facing the possibility that right-fielder Nelson Cruz could be suspended and without much production from their other outfielders, have set their sights on Chicago White Sox outfielder Alex Rios, San Francisco right fielder Hunter Pence and Seattle designated hitter Kendrys Morales to fill a need for a right-handed hitter, according to baseball sources.

Pence and Morales, a switch-hitter, can be free agents after the season, but Rios is under contract for next season. Acquiring him would replace either David Murphy or Cruz, both free agents after the season, for 2014 and fill the void in 2013 should Cruz get suspended for his ties to the Biogenesis of America clinic that distributed performance-enhancing drugs.

But the only team that is certin to be a seller before the July 31 trade deadline is the White Sox. The Giants are only 6 1/2 games out of the National League West lead despite entering Wednesday 46-54. The Mariners were 10 games out in the American League West, but had won eight straight before losing Wednesday.

The Rangers are bracing for a Cruz suspension after Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun took a 65-game suspension Monday. The Rangers have discussed promoting Triple A outfielder Joey Butler, who has never played in the majors, should Cruz get suspended and if no trade can be found.

-- Jeff Wilson

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