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Buzz: Murphy focused on present, not future

HOUSTON -- Free-agent-to-be David Murphy isn't thinking about where he'll be in 2014. Not even after the Rangers traded for an outfielder, Alex Rios, who will be on the payroll next season.

It's all about this year and getting back to the playoffs, Murphy said Friday as he returned to his hometown with his father and son joining him in the Rangers' clubhouse.

"There’s no reason to think about that," Murphy said when asked about the future. "All I’m thinking about right now is winning."

Murphy applauded the trade for Rios, who gives the Rangers a much-needed right-handed bat after Nelson Cruz was suspended for the rest of the regular season earlier this week.

The Rangers, who are loaded with left-handed hitters, were looking for a player of Rios' caliber before Cruz's suspension came down Monday.

"It's a great move," Murphy said. "Obviously he helps us with Nelson out for the season. He's a good player. We're playing to win."

Murphy did made an honest observation that Rios' arrival could cut into his at-bats and could affect whether he is a Ranger next year. In the present, Murphy wasn't in Friday's lineup against Houston lefty Erik Bedard even with Rios not scheduled to make his Rangers debut until Saturday. Rookie Joey Butler started in left field.

And there's 2014. Rios is slated to make $13 million. He has a $2 million buyout for 2015. A trade clause in his contract boosted his 2014 and 2015 salary, as well as the 2015 buyout.

In addition, the Rangers might decide to re-sign Cruz, who also is a free agent. So the Rios acquisition could have even more of an effect on Murphy.

"There’s a chance that it could affect my future with this team," Murphy said. "But I’m playing for 2013. We've got a great thing going here. If we finish out the season the way we’ve been playing, we got a great chance to do what we tried to get done in 2010 and 2011."

Murphy, who enters Friday batting .224 with a .284 on-base percentage, isn't having the season he wanted in his contract year.

He admitted he might have put too much pressure on himself with the departures of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young. Shortstop Elvis Andrus has said he did the same thing.

"The season hasn’t gone the way I planned or the way that other people planned on," Murphy said. "If there’s one thing that contributed to me not having a good season to this point, it’s that I may have lost my identity early on this season. Seeing some of the offense that, seeing players leave this past year and thinking maybe I needed to hit for more power or drive in runs."

The last thing on his mind is free agency. Despite his struggles this season, the 2014 free-agent class isn't a great one, so Murphy, who has played a key role in two World Series appearances, should still be a valued player.

"There are so many variables that go into me being a free agent after this season and where I could end up that I could drive myself crazy thinking about that, and there’s no reason to because I want to play a role on this team right now," Murphy said.

Berkman to start rehab Saturday: Designated hitter Lance Berkman will begin a rehab assignment Saturday as he continues his quest to see whether he can be productive and play again for the Rangers. Berkman came through a workout Friday in Houston with no issues.

"It's getting to the point where I need to get out there and see what I can do," Berkman said before his workout.

Berkman's plan was to take batting practice and run Friday.

"We're staying in the process with him and maybe he can work his way out and we'll see where it goes," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

Butler gets 1st start: Joey Butler had his first big league at-bat Wednesday. He was starting for the first time Friday night in left field against Houston.

It can't be as near as nerve-wracking as the first at-bat, Butler said. The 27-year-old rookie lined out to second base.

"I was pretty nervous when I went to the plate," Butler said. "Once I stepped into the batter's box, the nerves went away. Then they came back when I walked back to the dugout."

Short hops: Left-hander Matt Harrison was scheduled to make his third rehab start Friday night. He is slated to throw 65 pitches. ... Reliever Jason Frasor turned 36 on Friday. ... Minor league right-hander Cody Buckel, who is trying to recover from a bout with wildness, had five walks in 1/3 innings in an appearance for the Rookie League Arizona Rangers.