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Santana’s slump cools trade talks

Times Staff Writers

Ervin Santana’s struggles not only hurt the Angels this season, they may have wrecked the team’s chances of acquiring Texas slugger Mark Teixeira before the July 31 trade deadline.

According to a baseball source, the Angels, in great need of a power bat, and the Rangers held substantive trade talks this month regarding Teixeira, the first baseman who sat out almost a month of the season because of a leg injury and entered Monday with a .301 average, 13 home runs and 47 runs batted in.

The Angels hoped to build a package around Santana and first baseman Casey Kotchman, two players the Rangers had great interest in, but when Santana was demoted to triple-A Salt Lake last week with a 5-11 record and 6.22 earned-run average, talks between the teams cooled.

According to a source familiar with the Rangers’ thinking, if they’re going to trade their franchise player, a 27-year-old switch-hitter who averaged 35 home runs and 112 RBIs in his first four seasons and is signed through 2008, they need to make a deal their fans and the industry would applaud.

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Kotchman is a promising young first baseman, but Santana’s value has plummeted since the 24-year-old right-hander went 28-16 in his first two big league seasons.

Santana did have a sharp outing at Salt Lake on Sunday, giving up one run and two hits with six strikeouts in seven innings.

“The word we got on Ervin was that if he brought that stuff last night into a major league game, he would have success,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s getting in that road of consistency that will get him into a major league rotation. The talent is still there, he just needs to re-emerge.”

It’s possible talks could heat up again, but it’s doubtful the Rangers would deem left-hander Joe Saunders attractive enough to warrant dealing Teixeira, and the Angels have virtually no interest in trading John Lackey or Kelvim Escobar.

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Angels first base coach Alfredo Griffin said he was shocked when he heard the news that Mike Coolbaugh, a first base coach for double-A Tulsa, died after being struck in the head by a batted ball.

“It’s something that never crosses your mind,” Griffin said. “You got so many things going on when you’re down there coaching and you just never expect to see a guy get hit in the head.”

Griffin said that when there is a runner on first, the base coach must keep an eye on the first baseman as the pitch is delivered to see if there is a pickoff play on where the first baseman sneaks behind the runner for a snap throw from the catcher.

“This is a reminder not to take your eye off of the batter,” Griffin said. “If you stay in the coach’s box, it’s hard to do that, so I try to move further down the line, but they yell at me to get back in the box.”

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Howie Kendrick, on the disabled list because of a broken left index finger, said X-rays taken Monday showed nothing that would allow him to resume baseball activities.

“There’s no difference in my status,” Kendrick said. “It’s frustrating, but it’s a broken bone and there is nothing you can do but wait.”

It’s the second time this season Kendrick has been on the disabled list because of a broken bone in his left hand. He is batting .297 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 51 games.

This injury occurred while he was swinging a bat July 3 at Texas, but he didn’t go on the DL until July 13.

“I thought it might be just a jam or a sprain,” he said. “Right now I just have to let it heal.”

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

peter.yoon@latimes.com


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