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Braves still targeting Teixeira

Teixeira still a target for Braves

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PHOENIX -- There's still seemingly a good chance Mark Teixeira will end up with the Braves. But before the Rangers send him to Atlanta, they'll continue to evaluate other offers and the health of Matt Harrison's left shoulder.

Harrison, the Braves' top pitching prospect, experienced some left shoulder soreness while completing six innings for Double-A Mississippi on Tuesday. He will be further evaluated by doctors in Atlanta on Monday.

According to an American League source, Harrison's shoulder soreness complicates the deal that would send Teixeira to the Braves. But at the same time, it's believed that Rangers general manager Jon Daniels doesn't view this development as a definite deal breaker.

If the Braves are going to land Teixeira, they will definitely have to part ways with top catching prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Even with the Braves having played three extra-inning contests over the course of the past seven games, Saltalamacchia started behind the plate just once during that span.

The fact that All-Star catcher Brian McCann played the entirety of Sunday's 14-0 romp over the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, further signaled the possibility that the Braves are currently protecting Saltalamacchia from possible injury. Braves manager Bobby Cox removed many of his other regulars by the sixth inning of the blowout.

One National League scout said it's his belief that the Braves are still offering Saltalamacchia, Harrison and 18-year-old phenom Elvis Andrus for Teixeira, who is hitting .297 with a .397 on-base percentage and .524 slugging percentage this year.

Also wanting a reliever in this deal, the Braves likely won't get closer Eric Gagne. Sources have said they're more likely to get 36-year-old left-handed reliever Ron Mahay, who has limited left-handed hitters to a .250 batting average this year.

With the 27-year-old Teixeira, who averaged 38 homers over the previous three seasons, the Braves would find themselves with one of the National League's best lineups. The power-hitting first baseman has won two consecutive Gold Glove Awards.

Entering Sunday, the Braves had seen their first basemen hit .206 with a .266 on-base percentage and .359 slugging percentage -- all of which rank as the lowest marks in the Majors.

Teixeira, a former All-American during his college days at Georgia Tech, would likely get somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million as an arbitration-eligible player next season. With Scott Boras as his agent, it's seems nearly impossible to believe the Braves could prevent Teixeira from testing the free agent market following the 2008 season.

"We've struggled at first this year," Chipper Jones said. "We've got an opportunity to get an All-Star first baseman signed up in a place where we know he feels comfortable, where he played college ball. You certainly have to take advantage of that. We'll see if all the rumors come to fruition."

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

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