St. Louis Cardinals’ first baseman Lance Berkman is working his way back to the major leagues, beginning a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis this past weekend. While the Cardinals took two of three in Cincinnati to shave a game off the NL Central deficit, Berkman was waxing philosophic on his future.
Via the St. Louis Dispatch:
Berkman’s knees currently make a compelling case against going on. He refers to a weird, grinding sensation in his right knee and pain in his left one.
“It’s not like a physical hurt that I can’t move. It’s waking up every morning with sore knees, sore back and just feeling old,” he said. “When you’re young it’s easy to summon the will to battle through that.
“The older you get and the fatter and happier you get, the harder it is to do it. It requires a lot of will. And if I don’t have it, I don’t have it.”
Berkman also addressed his Hall of Fame candidacy in the piece, noting that the lure of a couple of milestone numbers is a factor in continuing his career. At 360 career home runs and 1,842 hits, Berkman probably doesn’t have the raw counting stats to merit induction. His rate stats are far more impressive, especially when you consider his career .953 OPS ranks 19th in baseball history. And they’ve been playing baseball for a very long time.
Berkman has been a very good to excellent hitter for a long time. A couple years ago, it looked like he might be done when the Astros traded him to the Yankees for the stretch run. Berkman didn’t take to DHing or the American League very well and resurrected his career (as so many seem to do) in St. Louis, turning in a tremendous 2011 campaign and helping the Cardinals to their improbable title run; the first championship of Berkman’s career.
Berkman’s Cardinals now sit six games behind the division-leading Reds, but do hold a one-and-a-half game edge for the second wild card slot in the National League.
If it is over after this season, at least Berkman will go out with his head up, and maybe with a memo to the writer who vote for the Hall of Fame. “I’m proud to have played my whole career supplement-free,” Berkman said. “I can honestly tell you every home run I’ve hit and every run I’ve driven in is all me. I don’t even take vitamins.”
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John Parent is the Senior Director of Human Resources for the FanSided Network. He can be reached at [email protected] or via Twitter @JohnJParent.