Lance Berkman tested his strained left calf yesterday, but Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that “he felt some residual tightness and the plan now is for him not to try to run again until Monday.”
Hummel notes that Berkman missed 21 days with a similar injury in 2009, so a similar timetable now would have him returning late next week. Even that seems pretty optimistic at this point, as Berkman admitted that yesterday’s running test “didn’t go as well as I wanted it to” and “it’s not there yet.”
Matt Carpenter has played well filling in for Berkman at first base and Allen Craig’s return from offseason knee surgery gives manager Mike Matheny another option for a big bat, but there’s no way for the Cardinals to truly replace the production a healthy Berkman has provided since last season. In 152 total games for St. Louis he’s hit .303 with 31 homers, nearly as many walks (98) as strikeouts (99), and a .963 OPS.
Free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo is headed back to the Brewers on a major league deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. No other terms have been reported yet, as the agreement is still pending a physical.
Gallardo, 31, completed a one-year run with the Mariners before getting his $13 million option declined by the team last month. He provided little value during his time in Seattle, pitching to a 5-10 record in 22 starts and putting up a 5.72 ERA, 4.1 BB/9 and 6.5 SO/9 in 130 2/3 innings as both a starter and reliever.
Still, assuming the veteran righty is on the cusp of a comeback, he may as well try for it with his original club. Gallardo last appeared for the Brewers from 2007 to 2014, racking up a cumulative 20.8 fWAR and peaking during the 2010 season, when he earned his first All-Star nomination and Silver Slugger award. This will be his ninth career season with the club.
Even with Gallardo aboard, the Brewers are expected to continue deepening their pitching stores for 2018. With team ace Jimmy Nelson still recovering from shoulder surgery, the club will enter the season with a projected rotation of Gallardo, Zach Davies, Chase Anderson and Junior Guerra, the latter of whom pitched just 70 1/3 innings in 2017 following a right calf strain and shin contusion. Another big name pitcher could help cement Milwaukee’s rotation and keep them competitive for another year, though they don’t appear to have made any concrete moves in that direction so far.