After being severely limited by knee troubles in 2012, Lance Berkman says he’s almost all the way back. The veteran slugger was quoted yesterday in the Fort Star Telegram as saying he felt at about 80 percent currently and has the ability to perform all hitting-related activities with no chance of complications.
Berkman, 37, inspired enough confidence in the Rangers for them to give him a contract worth $10 million for the 2013 season with a $12 million team option for 2014, and neither side seems especially worried about rushing him into the early spring training action. The organization is, naturally, far more concerned with his availability at the start of the regular season.
If Berkman can indeed stay healthy this season, his recent work suggests he can still hit, and quite well at that. As recently as the 2011 season, he posted a robust .959 OPS in 145 games for the Cardinals, and still managed a respectable triple-slash line of .259/.381/.444 while fighting the knee issues last year. Evidence suggests Berkman is still extremely adept at getting on base at the very least, and the power numbers will certainly receive a boost from playing 81 games in the Rangers’ cozy stadium.
Considering the team can split Berkman’s time between first base and designated hitter, they have a far better chance than a National League team of keeping him fresh and productive. There’s of course no way to be certain with the lengthy injury history, but this is a deal that could really pay huge dividends for Texas if Berkman is handled carefully.