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Astros ace Oswalt willing to call Texas home

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt will be pitching at Rangers Ballpark on Sunday.

Could he be on that mound in a pennant chase later this summer wearing a Texas uniform?

Rangers president and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan has publicly acknowledged his team's interest in acquiring the 32-year-old right-hander. Oswalt, who has requested a trade, says that would be OK with him.

"If it works for the organization and works for me," Oswalt said Friday before the Lone Star State teams opened a weekend series in Arlington. "They have a real good team here. They're leading the division and you've got guys like Nolan, the head of the organization here, who's going to put a good baseball team on the field."

Before the two teams played a series in Houston last weekend, Ryan used the terms "phenomenal" and "special" while referring to Oswalt. But Ryan said there had been no significant discussions between the teams about a possible deal.

Ryan is also a principal owner of the Round Rock minor league team, which was an Astros Double-A team when Oswalt went 11-4 with a 1.94 ERA in 2000, a year before making his major league debut. Ryan, who pitched for the Rangers and Astros, was a special assistant for the Astros organization from 2004-07 before becoming the Rangers president in 2008.

Any move right now would be complicated by Oswalt's salary and the Rangers bankruptcy proceedings that have stalled the pending sale of the team to a group led by Ryan and Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg.

Oswalt (5-9, 3.08 ERA) is making $15 million this year. He is scheduled to make $16 million in 2011, and the same in 2012 though the Astros could option out of that final year for $2 million.

Earlier this season, Oswalt said he would waive his no-trade clause to go to a contender.

"I feel good at this point in my career," Oswalt said. "I've got two years left on my contract and then we'll see what happens."

Oswalt has a career record of 142-79 with a 3.22 ERA in 298 major league games (286 starts), all for the Astros. He was part of the franchise's only World Series in 2005.

The Rangers swept Houston last weekend and went into Friday night's game with a majors-best 11-game winning streak and a 4½-game lead in the AL West, the largest lead in any division.

Houston was fourth in the NL Central, 12½ games behind division-leading St. Louis and only 2½ games ahead of Pittsburgh, the National League's worst team.

Texas, which hasn't been to the playoffs since 1999, could use a front-line starting pitcher for a possible pennant run.

Prized offseason acquisition Rich Harden (3-3, 5.68), on the disabled list with a strained left buttock, isn't expected back until after the All-Star break. Opening day starter Scott Feldman (5-6, 5.32) has struggled after winning 17 games last season.

But the Rangers will be hampered making any significant moves before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline if their bankruptcy case isn't settled and the new ownership group is in place.

"That's the business part of it," Oswalt said. "I don't know anything about bankruptcy."

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AP freelance writer Ken Sins contributed to this report.