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Wounded Tigers could pounce ahead of trade deadline

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Tigers are wounded but there are still six days until the Major League Baseball trade deadline for Detroit and other contenders to strengthen their rosters in the chase for a playoff berth.

The Tigers lost their starting third baseman, right fielder and second baseman to injuries last week and are among the baseball contenders carefully examining trade options ahead of Saturday's deadline for non-waiver trades.

After Saturday, teams have to subject players in a potential trade to waivers before dealing them, leaving open the possibility of another team blocking a swap by putting in a claim on a player destined to be moved to a competitor.

Detroit, two games behind the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central race, had third baseman Brandon Inge break a finger, outfielder Magglio Ordonez fracture his ankle and versatile Carlos Guillen strain a calf muscle to crowd their disabled list.

A youthful call-up from the minors may just be a stop gap measure as the Tigers target hitting help for their stricken lineup that could include Washington slugger Adam Dunn or Boston third baseman Mike Lowell.

Oddly, Detroit's division rival White Sox are also seen to be interested in adding punch to their lineup and could also be in the bidding for a power-hitter such as Dunn.

In the National League, the pitching-rich San Diego Padres, leading the NL West by three games, would also love to add a hitter to fuel their charge and could be a Dunn destination.

The Los Angeles Angels beat other pitching-poor rivals to the punch by swinging a Sunday deal with Arizona for Dan Haren, but there are other candidates for ailing rotations, including the Cubs' Ted Lilly, Oakland's Ben Sheets and the Indians' Jake Westbrook.

Chicago left-hander Lilly has been scouted by many teams including the New York Yankees, who despite posting the best mark in the major leagues at 62-35, are now using fill-ins for disabled stalwart Andy Pettitte, out with a strained groin.

The NL Central-leading St Louis Cardinals have room for a starting pitcher to boost them in their tight division race and A's hurler Sheets has been mentioned as a possibility.

The Cincinnati Reds, just a half-game behind the Cards, could shore up their bullpen by acquiring coveted closers Joakim Soria of Kansas City or Kevin Gregg of Toronto, or perhaps Blue Jays' set-up man Scott Downs.

Some of the best deals, of course, come as big surprises so fans of all teams are on edge heading into deadline day.

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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