Lance Berkman needs knee surgery, making him doubtful for Opening Day

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Update: According to Alyson Footer, Astros Sr. Director of Social Media, Berkman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee this morning. Dr. David Crumbie removed loose cartilage debris from the knee and did not see any sign of ligament or meniscus damage. He’s still expected to miss 2-4 weeks, leaving Opening Day in doubt.
Friday 1:40 pm: MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports that Lance Berkman will undergo arthroscopic surgery “to remove loose particles from his left knee” and will miss 2-4 weeks, putting his status for Opening Day in serious jeopardy.
“Whether or not he’s going to be ready for Opening Day really just depends on the healing process,” general manager Ed Wade said. “They haven’t even gone in yet so it’s too early to tell, but the normal time frame would be two-to-four weeks. We’ll see where it flows from there.”
Berkman was sidelined early in camp after bruising his knee during a drill, but Astros team doctor David Lintner called the injury “not serious” and the first baseman returned to the lineup for the next five games, going 4-for-11 with three doubles.
Berkman even said at the time that doctors advised him playing through the pain was “not going to be able to make it worse,” but apparently things have changed. Given that he’s a 34-year-old with a history of knee problems Berkman figures to be on the long end of the recovery timetable, making Opening Day a serious long shot.
As part of a six-year, $85 million contract Houston holds a $15 million team option or $2 million buyout on Berkman for next season, so after 14 years in the organization there was already speculation that they’d look to trade him or simply decline the option. He ranks sixth on the Astros’ all-time list for games played and is second to only Jeff Bagwell in homers.

Bartolo Colon ain’t doing so hot this year

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If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.

Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.

The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.

At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.

Braves designate Josh Collmenter for assignment

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Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.

Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.

Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.

Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.