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07/18/07 2:05 AM ET

Notes: Teixeira trade talks pick up

Byrd to play center in finale; Kinsler close to making return

OAKLAND -- Trade talks involving Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira have picked up considerably over the past few days, according to Major League sources.

The Red Sox, Angels, Braves and Yankees are showing the most interest, but the Giants have also inquired. The Dodgers have Teixeira high on their list of hitters, but have turned their attention to pitching.

The interest has picked up again as Teixeira has returned strong from the disabled list. He was 6-for-16 with a home run in his first four games since being activated on Friday.

But most clubs are still looking for pitching and the Rangers are getting interest not only in Akinori Otsuka and Eric Gagne but also Joaquin Benoit. One Major League official said there is much interest in Benoit, who went into Tuesday's game with a record of 3-3 and a 3.10 ERA.

The Rangers are also watching potential interest in pitchers Ron Mahay and Jamey Wright and outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Kenny Lofton. The Rangers have not had much interest yet in Sammy Sosa.

"We've had some discussions with other clubs," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "It's that time of year. Anything we can do to improve our club going forward, we will look at."

Benoit could be even more desirable than Otsuka or Gagne. Otsuka has been bothered by soreness in his elbow/forearm area since July 1 and Gagne has made it clear that he wants to remain a closer. Most teams are looking for setup relievers.

The Red Sox, who have Jonathan Papelbon, are among the teams that have backed off Gagne because of his preferred role. Gagne declined to discuss possible trades, but did admit that he wants to remain a closer if he is traded.

"That's what I know how to do," Gagne said.

Asked about the possibility of being a setup reliever, Gagne said, "I've never done it so I really can't say. I'm a closer. I can't rule out anything but I'm a closer."

Byrd in center: Manager Ron Washington is planning to start Marlon Byrd in center field on Wednesday. The move is significant.

Byrd has started just three games in center, but the Rangers are looking at him as a possible replacement for Lofton, who is a free agent after the season. The Rangers have also received mixed interest in Lofton in trade talks.

"I want to see [Byrd] play center field," Washington said. "The way he's swinging the bat ... he came up as a center fielder, I want to see what he looks like. Every opportunity we get, we're going to look at him out there."

The Rangers signed Byrd in the offseason as a backup center fielder, but one of the reasons why they sent him to the Minors at the end of Spring Training was because of his poor defense. But Washington said Byrd has looked much better defensively since being recalled from the Minors on May 28.

"Since he came back, he has looked like a different guy," Washington said. "He's definitely got the athleticism, so we're going to take a look."

Kinsler getting close to return: Second baseman Ian Kinsler, on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left foot, is hoping to go on a medical rehabilitation assignment this weekend and return to the Rangers lineup sometime next week.

Kinsler has resumed taking batting practice and taking ground balls in the last couple of days. He has also been jogging on the foot without any problems.

"When we get back home I'm going to get new orthopedic [support] in the shoe and really get after it," Kinsler said. "Right now it feels great. I haven't had a full spring yet, but I've been jogging and it feels fine. When it get the new [support], that's when I'll start sprinting."

He said it: "That's as good as it gets. That's a big-league bullpen [session] right there: command and movement with all his pitches." -- pitching coach Mark Connor after watching Kameron Loe's bullpen session on Tuesday

Minor League stars: Gold: First baseman Mauro Gomez went 3-for-5 with his 10th home run and two RBIs in Class A Clinton's 4-1 victory over Dayton. ... Silver: Salomon Manriquez went 3-for-4 with an RBI, German Duran was 2-for-4 with a home run and Brandon Boggs was 2-for-5 with three RBIs in Double-A Frisco's 9-6 victory over San Antonio. ... Bronze: Chris Davis was 1-for-4 for Class A Bakersfield to extend his hitting streak to 34 games, one short of the California League record.

Briefly: The Rangers have a doubleheader against the Seattle Mariners next Tuesday, but Washington said he doesn't see Vicente Padilla being ready to come off the disabled list to pitch in that game. He was scratched from Tuesday's rehab assignment because of continued concerns about his right elbow. ... Kasey Kiker, the Rangers top pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft who is pitching at Clinton, was ejected from Monday's start against Dayton for throwing high and inside to a batter. ... Triple-A Oklahoma outfielder Jason Botts left Tuesday's game with cut finger. The Rangers aren't sure if he'll need stitches.

Up next: Right-hander Kevin Millwood closes out the three-game series against the Athletics at 2:35 p.m. CT on Wednesday at McAfee Coliseum. Left-hander Lenny DiNardo pitches for the Oakland.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.