© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

08/27/08 8:45 PM ET

Rangers taking time for Murphy's return

Club wants slugger at 100 percent as ROY race goes to the wire

KANSAS CITY -- Rangers outfielder David Murphy is hoping to be ready to come off the disabled list by Sept. 1, when the rosters are expanded. Manager Ron Washington says it might be a little longer than that.

Murphy did put his injured right knee through a strenuous test on Wednesday before the Rangers game with the Royals, and everything went well.

Murphy, who is sidelined with a strained ligament in his right knee, did a variety of baserunning simulation drills, including rounding first base on a single, going from first to third, and tagging up on a sacrifice fly.

"That's the hardest I've run," said Murphy, who injured the knee in an awkward slide into home plate on Aug. 6 against the Yankees. "It felt a little weak, but I think it's a step forward and definitely a good thing. We'll see how it responds tomorrow."

Murphy was expected to be sidelined from between two and four weeks. It's now been three weeks and his return is near. The Rangers just want to make sure.

"He still has some stuff to get done," Washington said. "I want Murphy to be right. I don't want it to linger. I don't want to make a move and have him come back until he's ready."

Murphy said he felt he could play right now if he had to, but would prefer to wait until he's 100 percent.

"There's no need to rush it," Murphy said.

A quick return would help Murphy get back into a crowded Rookie of the Year race in the American League. He and Rays third baseman Evan Longoria were two leading candidates until they both went down with injuries about the same time.

Longoria suffered a fractured right wrist on Aug. 7 and is also hoping to get back in September. He is hitting .278 with 22 home runs and 71 RBIs while Murphy is hitting .275 with 15 home runs and 74 RBIs. Other candidates have emerged among position players including White Sox infielder Alexei Ramirez, who is hitting .311 with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs.

Two pitchers could also be prominent candidates: Tigers right-hander Armando Galarraga (12-4, 3.20) and Twins left-hander Glen Perkins, who is 11-3 with a 3.90 ERA.

"I don't care about [the Rookie of the Year race]," Murphy said. "It's just something extra. When the season is over, it's something for the fans, it's something for fun. I'm not saying I wouldn't be honored if I won, but that's not my first priority."

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