Lance Berkman, Mike Matheny

Lance Berkman leaves game with serious-looking knee injury

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The Cardinals are suddenly taking punches.

First baseman Lance Berkman had to be helped off the field Saturday night at Dodger Stadium after losing his balance while stretching for a throw from shortstop Rafael Furcal. It appeared that his right knee buckled under him, and he was clearly in pain as he carefully made his way into the dugout aided by trainer Chris Conroy and manager Mike Matheny.

Berkman has undergone four different knee procedures — two to each knee — in his major league career, but he wasn’t able to make a quick diagnosis of this particular injury. It felt different than the kind of issues he’s dealt with in the past.

“It doesn’t feel right,” Berkman told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch. “I wish I knew more than that. … I didn’t feel a pop. [The joint] just kind of slid on me a little bit. That’s the best way I can describe it.”

The Cardinals are concerned enough about his status that they removed first base prospect Matt Adams in the fifth inning of Triple-A Memphis’ game (and presumably told him to get on the next flight to Los Angeles). Adams, a promising 23-year-old, was batting .340/.375/.603 with nine home runs in 37 games this year at the Triple-A level. He slugged 32 home runs in 115 games last season at Double-A Springfield.

St. Louis has lost three straight games. Sunday’s series finale with the Dodgers will be broadcast on ESPN.

Brett Lawrie will take a pay cut to avoid arbitration with White Sox

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 12: Brett Lawrie #15 of the Chicago White Sox fields a ground ball during batting practice before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 12, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.

The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.

Cubs sign LHP Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Duensing #50 of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.