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.
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.