The total extent of Lance Berkman’s knee injury was unclear until he underwent surgery this morning and now the verdict is in, as the Cardinals announced that he’ll miss “approximately 8-10 weeks.”
According to the team the surgery repaired Berkman’s torn meniscus, but there was no mention of his ACL after the veteran switch-hitter and the Cardinals disagreed about whether or not it was torn as well.
All in all the result qualifies as positive news because 8-10 weeks on the sidelines means Berkman could potentially be back in the lineup around mid-August. That’s a best-case scenario, of course, and at age 36 it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if any setbacks put his status for the entire season in question. A torn ACL, however, would have ended his season and possibly his career.
Matt Adams will get an extended opportunity at first base in Berkman’s absence and the 23-year-old prospect has the potential to make an impact after consistently hitting for big-time power in the minors. Prior to being called up last week Adams played a total of 152 games between Double-A and Triple-A since the beginning of last season, hitting .310 with 41 homers and 33 doubles. He doesn’t walk much, but the guy can mash.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉