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Could Rangers, still in contact with Lohse, make a play for him?

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have remained in contact with free-agent pitcher Kyle Lohse but have resisted making an offer to date.

They have been interested in seeing their young staff perform this spring, and while it's talented, a couple issues have cropped up -- including top pitching prospect Martin Perez suffering a fractured bone in his left forearm Sunday. He could be out two months or more.

While some Rangers people were suggesting early Sunday that Lohse still remains "unlikely'' for them, several factors could at least keep them in touch with Lohse and agent Scott Boras, including the status of Perez, who had been impressing them in camp to the point of establishing himself as the favorite for the No. 5 starter spot before being hurt. Perez, a left-hander, was struck by a line smash just above the left wrist off the bat of Mariners prospect Brad Miller, and Rangers people seemed quite concerned about him as he headed for X-rays.

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Some members of the Rangers staff had been advocating for Lohse even before Perez was hurt. There's a belief by some within the organization that Alexi Ogando might be best served by moving back to the bullpen, opening a possible spot for Lohse. However, Rangers brass has preferred to see Ogando, who made an All-Star team as a starter, remain in the rotation.

Texas higher-ups have been reluctant to go hard for Lohse for a variety of reasons, including the draft choice they would have to surrender (No. 24 overall) if they signed him, and a thought that they aren't really desperate for another starting pitcher. They hope Colby Lewis will be back in May, too.

One thing Texas does have going for it is its finances. Their revenues are way up following three consecutive playoff appearances (including two World Series), and their payroll, just above $120 million, is about the same as last year. Texas' first target this winter was top free-agent starter Zack Greinke, and they offered him close to the $147 million, six-year Dodgers deal he signed.

Texas lost high-priced players Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli this winter. The Rangers signed Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski to one-year deals but aren't expected to be the offensive juggernaut they've been in recent years.

Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently wrote the Rangers have remained in contact with Lohse's camp. Now it'll be interesting to see whether talks will get more serious.

Rangers ownership has given their baseball people the go-ahead to sign players they feel will enhance their chances, according to people familiar with the situation. Whether that includes Lohse remains to be seen.

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