Report: Rangers “very much in play” for Carlos Beltran

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It appears the Giants, Braves and Phillies have some company.

Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports that the Rangers remain “very much in play” in the pursuit of Carlos Beltran. The first-place Rangers have reportedly zeroed in on Beltran and Padres’ closer Heath Bell as their primary trade targets before the deadline.

While the Rangers have a scout in Miami watching Beltran, a source tells Rubin that the Mets have ramped up watching Rangers’ minor leaguers. In fact, Mets scout Bryan Lambe is watching the Rangers’ Class A Hickory club after being redirected.

Some prominent members of the Hickory roster include shortstop Jurickson Profar, outfielder Jake Skole, third baseman Christian Villanueva and right-hander Roman Mendez. Profar was recently ranked as the game’s No. 12 prospect on Baseball America’s midseason list and is highly unlikely to be included in a potential deal for Beltran.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.