Nelson Cruz’s hamstring injury could motivate Rangers to pursue Lance Berkman

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While the Rangers await word on Nelson Cruz’s latest hamstring injury Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News speculates that Lance Berkman of the Cardinals would be “their prime target … if the Rangers do go elsewhere for help.”

Berkman cleared waivers last week, so the Cardinals are free to trade the 35-year-old outfielder, and he’s owed around $1.3 million for September as part of a one-year contract.

Fraley notes that Berkman considered signing with the Rangers before choosing the Cardinals and he’s been an incredible pickup for St. Louis, hitting .289 with 30 homers and a .975 OPS in 118 games.

Obviously the Rangers would love to add an impact bat to the lineup as they try to stay ahead of the Angels in the AL West, but Berkman said last week that he’d ideally like to re-sign with the Cardinals and regardless of Cruz’s status a last-minute deal for a hitter as good as Berkman seems unlikely.

Kendrys Morales pitched a scoreless inning Sunday

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Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.

Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.

Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.

On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.