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Teixeira acknowledges trade from Braves possible

ATLANTA – The July 31 trade deadline is bearing down on the Atlanta Braves. No one has to tell Mark Teixeira.

Teixeira, the Braves’ first baseman who can be a free agent after the season, hit two homers Sunday but still the Braves were overwhelmed in a 15-6 loss to the Nationals.

The Braves lost two of three to the Nationals, and Teixeira says a bad showing by the team this month only increases the chances he could be traded.

“That’s part of the game,” Teixeira said. “I’ve always said I want to stay here. I want to see things through, but business is business and sometimes things have to change.”

There were reports last week that the Braves have shopped Teixeira to the Boston Red Sox.

Braves general manager Frank Wren said Saturday the team is still trying to improve for this season, but he said the focus would shift to the future if the team doesn’t stay close in the NL East.

“Right now we’ve all got to be realistic,” Wren said. “We’re sitting in a position where we’ve got to play better baseball in the second half to continue to stay in this thing. So as long as we’re in it, we’ll be buyers.

“But I think once it’s a situation where we need to start looking toward ’09, then we’ll do what’s best for the organization.”

Teixeira posted his second two-homer game of the season and the 20th of his career. The switch-hitter hit homers from both sides of the plate for the second time this season and fifth time in his career.

Teixeira is hitting .278 and leads the team with 19 homers and 72 RBIs.

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ESCOBAR BACK IN SWING: Shortstop Yunel Escobar, who missed six straight games with a shoulder injury, is set to start Monday after finally receiving clearance for batting practice on Sunday.

Escobar first suffered a strained left shoulder while diving back into first base on June 24 and missed five games. He returned but irritated the injury and missed the last three games before the All-Star break and the three-game home series against Washington that ended with Sunday’s 15-6 loss.

Escobar didn’t take batting practice with the team on the field Sunday but after being examined was cleared to take swings in the indoor batting cage.

“He hit just before the game and did well with it and didn’t have any more pain,” said manager Bobby Cox. “Right now the goal is to go ahead and start him tomorrow.”

The Braves open a three-game series at Florida on Monday night.

Escobar, normally the No. 2 hitter, is hitting .286 with six homers, 35 RBIs and 44 runs.

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REHAB ASSIGNMENTS: Outfielder Matt Diaz (strained left knee) and relief pitcher Jeff Bennett (strained right shoulder) left the team Sunday to begin injury rehab assignments with Triple-A Richmond.

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ALL GOOD FOR GLAVINE: Tom Glavine, who threw off the bullpen mound Saturday for the first time since suffering a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow, said he had no discomfort on Sunday.

Glavine said he may try to play catch on Monday and throw off the mound in Florida on Tuesday.