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Corner Infielders at Top of the List

Times Staff Writer

With six days left before Monday’s trade deadline, the Angels’ search for a hitter appears to have shifted away from the corner outfield and designated hitter spots and toward the corner infield spots.

That wouldn’t preclude a deal for Washington left fielder Alfonso Soriano, the most attractive hitter on the market and a versatile player the Angels would find a spot for if the Nationals’ asking price comes down.

But the Angels are set in right field with Vladimir Guerrero, they remain committed to injury-plagued left fielder-designated hitter Garret Anderson, who has two years left on his contract, and left fielder-designated hitter Juan Rivera has been the team’s hottest hitter this month.

For those reasons, the Angels, according to sources, have backed away from players such as Philadelphia right fielder Bobby Abreu and Milwaukee left fielder Carlos Lee.

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But third base and first base are positions where the Angels could upgrade, and they remain very interested in Baltimore shortstop Miguel Tejada, whom they would like to acquire and move to third.

The Orioles, though, don’t seem motivated to move Tejada unless they are blown away by an offer. The teams appear far apart after exchanging proposals, and the only way the Angels will get Tejada is if General Manager Bill Stoneman agrees to part with far more talent.

Among the third basemen the Angels have inquired about are the Chicago Cubs’ Aramis Ramirez (.266, 22 homers, 63 runs batted in), Arizona’s Chad Tracy (.278, 14 homers, 56 RBIs) and Houston’s Morgan Ensberg (.236, 19 homers, 44 RBIs).

The pool of available first basemen includes Cleveland’s Ben Broussard (.322, 13 homers, 46 RBIs), Cincinnati’s Scott Hatteberg (.319, nine homers, 33 RBIs), Pittsburgh’s Craig Wilson (.263, 13 homers, 39 RBIs) and Sean Casey (.299, three homers, 27 RBIs) and Kansas City’s Doug Mientkiewicz (.285, four homers, 43 RBIs).

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Dallas McPherson was diagnosed Tuesday with lower-back inflammation, and a Phoenix back specialist told the Angels infielder he should return to the field by early next week.

McPherson, who will undergo a series of cortisone shots today, might need minor surgery after the season to remove a nerve that is causing pain in his back, but he should be able to make it through this season without an operation.

“I finally got some good news,” McPherson said by phone. “My core is strong enough, so there’s no need to rehabilitate it. I just need to get the inflammation out.”

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McPherson, limited by lower-back and hip injuries to 61 games last season and 36 games this year, will resume his minor league rehabilitation assignment at triple-A Salt Lake in hopes of giving the Angels a power boost from the left side of the plate later this year.

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Guerrero needed a day off his feet, so Manager Mike Scioscia started the right fielder at designated hitter Tuesday, removing Anderson (sore hamstring) from the lineup.

Anderson will probably sit out today’s game, as well. Combined with Thursday’s off day, Scioscia hopes three days of rest will enable Anderson to return to left field in Boston this weekend.

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