Lance Berkman sidelined with slight strain of right rotator cuff

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The Cardinals are without one of their most important bats tonight as they continue to duke it out in the ultra-competitive National League Central.

B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest reports that Lance Berkman will sit out tonight’s series opener against the Astros after he suffered a slight strain of his right rotator cuff on his final swing during Sunday’s game against the Pirates.

“Just when I took that last swing,” Berkman said. “Clearly there was something funny because the ball went one way and the shortstop ran up the middle. It was just strange.

“It hurt me when I got to first. Right when I did it, I didn’t feel anything that I can remember. It happened so fast, but I got down to first base and I was like, ‘My goodness’. It just didn’t feel good.”

While Berkman’s absence tonight ends a streak of 40 consecutive games played dating back to June 7, the good news is that he doesn’t anticipate missing more than “a day or two.”

Berkman, who signed a one-year, $8 million contract over the winter, is batting .288/.400/.599 with a .999 OPS in 365 plate appearances this season. He leads the National League with 27 home runs and ranks fourth with 69 RBI.

Rays pitcher Brent Honeywell leaves BP session with possible injury

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This is not good: Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rays pitcher Brent Honeywell cut short a bullpen session this morning and left the field with a trainer. Topkin says Honeywell was “clearly upset” as he made his way into the clubhouse and “cursed loudly a few times.”

Obviously you don’t want to assume the worst, but that’s often the behavior of a pitcher who experienced a serious injury. We will get updates later and will provide an update when we hear.

UPDATE:

Honeywell, probably the Rays’ top prospect, is slated to make his major league debut early this season, though possibly not for a few weeks into the season due to off days. Eventually, though, it is assumed he’d slot in someplace behind Chris Archer, Matt Andriese, Nathan Eovaldi, Jake Faria, and Blake Snell, either as a young-David Price-style swingman, a spot starter or a regular starter at some point.

Last year Honeywell posted a 3.49 ERA and 172/35 K/BB ratio in 136. innings in 26 starts between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.