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Baker may be back on field by Friday

MINNEAPOLIS -- Texas utility man Jeff Baker could be back in the Rangers' starting lineup as early as Friday.

Typically used against left-handed pitching, Baker was held from the lineup Wednesday when the Rangers faced Los Angeles Angels southpaw Michael Roth due to lingering swelling in his right knee.

But after X-rays revealed no structural damage and Baker was given an extra day off, he is tracking toward being available for the majority of the Rangers' four-game series with the Twins.

"He got treatment today. His mobility is better, but I'm looking for him to be available tomorrow," manager Ron Washington said.

Minnesota left-hander Scott Diamond is slated to start Friday, making it a likely night for Baker to return.

Baker's injury came on a dazzling sliding catch near the left field wall in the first inning Tuesday at Angels Stadium. Baker had to the leave the game early as his knee quickly became swollen.

Two days later, Washington isn't ruling out the possibility of using Baker as a pinch-hitter Thursday.

"He might be a little secret weapon tonight off the bench; one swing of the bat," Washington said.

Nate Sandell is a contributor to
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