When the Cardinals signed Lance Berkman to an $8 million deal this offseason guys like me wondered about the wisdom of asking a 35-year-old who’s not in particularly outstanding shape and hasn’t played the outfield since 2007 to be an everyday right fielder.
Sub par defense is all but assured, as Berkman was hardly a strong defender when he played the outfield regularly five years ago, but another issue is that the increased ground to cover and throws to make figure to present an increased injury risk after three years as a first baseman/designated hitter.
Berkman’s elbow started barking almost immediately, so the Cardinals limited him to designated hitter duties early in camp, but now he’s been scratched from the lineup altogether because of a sore calf muscle.
Berkman told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he’s “perfectly fine” and would have played if it weren’t early in spring training, but once the season starts the DH option will go away while the aches and pains probably won’t.
The Reds picked up outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera on minor league deals, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Both Williams and Herrera will receive invites to spring training and could compete for backup outfield roles behind Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler.
Williams, 26, completed a three-year track with the Yankees in 2017. He has yet to see a full season of playing time, however, and went 4-for-17 with two stolen bases during a five-game span with the club in 2017. While not a power hitter, his speed and steady contact rate produced a .263/.309/.318 batting line over 437 plate appearances in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including two home runs, three triples and 19 stolen bases.
Herrera, 25, has yet to make his big league debut. After seven years in the Rockies’ system, he finally reached Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017 and slashed .278/.351/.394 with three home runs and 20 stolen bases in 363 PA. He looks most comfortable in the left field corner, but has some experience at shortstop and third base and should give the Reds a nice utility option come spring.