Talk to just about anyone who follows baseball with a level head and they’ll tell how unlikely it is that 35-year-old Lance Berkman is going to be able to maintain good health all season while playing regularly in right field for the Cardinals.
He hasn’t made starts in the outfield on a daily basis since 2004 and he’s undergone surgery on both of his knees since the winter of 2006.
But Berkman doesn’t care about the doubters. And neither do the Cardinals, who signed the veteran to a one-year, $8 million contract this winter with full knowledge that they will have nowhere to hide him should his knees, shoulders or elbows begin acting up. First base, after all, is occupied.
Berkman played right field in Thursday’s Grapefruit League game against the Marlins for the first time in a couple of weeks and told B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest that he felt “great” physically:
“I’ve got no problems,” said Berkman. “My arm feels great. I’ve got no problems playing the outfield. It’s not like the thing is just going to blow up. It was a little bit sore but there’s nothing wrong with it. It was a pretty basic day really.”
The proud Waco, Texas native also had a message for those who have questioned his abilities:
“I’ve got almost 1,000 games in the outfield, so I can play the outfield,” Berkman continued. “You all can write this: I am an outfielder. I came up as an outfielder. I’ve played a full year of center field in the big leagues. I can play the outfield. I can catch the ball. I can throw it. It’s funny to me but I guess I can understand why people were questioning, or wanted to see me catch a ball or hit a cutoff. It’s basic stuff.”
Berkman still has a great bat and elite plate discipline, but luck will have to be on his side this year for everything to go as smoothly as he wants. He has already battled minor elbow and knee injuries this spring.
TORONTO (AP) The Toronto Blue Jays have placed Troy Tulowitzki on the 15-day disabled list with a right quad injury.
An MRI before Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox revealed a low-grade strain, and Tulowitzki will receive treatment on the leg before resuming baseball activities.
“I think I needed more time to get over the hump,” he said. “There was a couple things that made me realize that I wasn’t myself out there. I just felt it too many times.”
Tulowitzki was injured stealing second in New York against the Yankees on Tuesday. He came out of that game, and after sitting out the remainder of the series, he returned for Friday night’s home game against the Red Sox but was ineffective, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and showing limitations in his movement in the field.
“It’s tough,” Tulowitzki said. “You could rest it and maybe get better in a week or so, but then you have to play with a man down, and that’s not the right thing to do either, so that was the decision.”
He is batting .204 this season, with eight home runs and 23 RBIs. Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney are expected to split time at shortstop until Tulowitzki returns.
The Blue Jays called up left-handed reliever Aaron Loup to take Tulowitzki’s spot on the roster. Loup, who has yet to play this season, has been recovering from a forearm strain in his pitching arm and just completed a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo.
The Mets have acquired first baseman James Loney from the Padres in exchange for cash, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reported on Saturday afternoon. The Mets’ interest in Loney was first reported on Tuesday after learning that Lucas Duda would be out “a while” with a stress fracture in his back.
Loney, 32, has spent the entirety of the 2016 season with Triple-A El Paso in the Padres’ system. He hit .342/.373/.424 with two home runs and 28 RBI in 169 plate appearances.
Rubin suggests Loney could platoon at first base with Wilmer Flores, who is expected to return from the disabled list soon.
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Braves have placed shortstop Erick Aybar on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right foot.
Aybar left Friday night’s game in the fifth, one inning after he was hit by a pitch from Miami’s Adam Conley. The Braves said Friday night that X-rays were negative.
Aybar, acquired as part of the offseason deal that sent shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels, is hitting .182.
Daniel Castro is starting at shortstop in Saturday’s game against the Marlins.
In a corresponding move, the Braves recalled right-hander Aaron Blair from Triple-A Gwinnett to start Saturday’s game.
Red Sox manager John Farrell announced Friday that Clay Buchholz has been moved to the bullpen.
Buchholz was lit up for six runs on Thursday in just the latest poor outing in a year full of them thus far. His ERA now sits at a lofty 6.35 and he is posting a career low strikeout rate of 5.9 per nine innings while both his walk rate and his home run rates have spiked. His WHIP — 1.465 — is the worst he’s posted since 2008.
Eduardo Rodriguez will take his place in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list. He’ll get what would have been Buchholz’s next start on Tuesday.
According to the depth chart, Buchholz was the Red Sox’ second starter. He’s been their worst starter by far this year, however, and now he’s likely a long man who will be seeing mopup duty for the foreseeable future.