Usually, BSoML stories are mock-worthy. In Lance Berkman’s case, it’s serious business. That’s because Berkman is trying to do that which is not usually done: move right on the defensive spectrum in his mid-30s. As Joe Strauss notes, however: Berkman is taking this very, very seriously:
“If I have a repeat of last year I’m probably out of the game,” Berkman says. “While that doesn’t really bother me, I feel like God has given me a gift to play the game, and I want to take full advantage of that. I don’t want to see it end because I’m not in the best possible shape. If my skills have eroded, fine. That happens to everybody. But I don’t want it to be because I didn’t put in the best possible effort forth to be in great shape.”
And he’s putting in that effort, Strauss reports. He’s dropped 20 pounds, has reduced his body fat, has overhauled his diet and is working on agility drills and stuff daily.
I worry about Berkman in the outfield. I desperately want him to succeed, however. Maybe because I like Lance Berkman. Maybe because I’m getting older and I’m feeling out of shape myself and want to believe that you can arrest the march of time, at least for a little while.
Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.
It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.
Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.
The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.
Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.