Mark Teixeira says he is well past hamstring injury

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Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira suffered a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring during the Bomber’s ALCS matchup with the Rangers last October and was forced to sit idle for the first six to eight weeks of the offseason.

It’s December now, of course, and Tex spoke to ESPN New York on Tuesday about his recovery.

Long story short?  Everything is going well and he should be back to full strength by the start of spring training in late February.

“It actually worked out great because I spent the first month of the off-season, which is usually an active rest period for me… I took that month as my rehab month,” Teixeira said. “And then once December 1st came I was lifting weights and running full speed.”

The 30-year-old also battled thumb and toe injuries over the final month or so of the 2010 season and wound up with a relatively unremarkable .256/.365/.481 batting line.  He’s hoping for a 2011 season of complete health and better offensive results.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.