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.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.