Lance Berkman nearing return from knee surgery


Lance Berkman will not be activated from the disabled list for the start of the second half tomorrow, but his return from knee surgery isn’t far off.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Berkman will travel with the Cardinals to Cincinnati after successfully lobbying that a minor league rehab assignment will not be necessary.

While Berkman’s knee is no longer an issue, he’ll have to shake the rust at the plate before being cleared to return. He took batting practice today at Busch Stadium and will go through the same routine at Great American Ballpark. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny believes it’s likely he’ll be activated at some point during the team’s upcoming six-game road trip.

Berkman was hitting .333 (14-for-42) with one homer and four RBI in 13 games prior to undergoing surgery on May 25 to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee. While his return likely means less at-bats for Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter, the 36-year-old isn’t expected to play every day initially.

Madison Bumgarner diagnosed with fractured left hand

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Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner sustained a displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his left hand on Friday. He’ll undergo surgery on Saturday to insert pins in his pinky knuckle, a procedure that could require a four- to six-week recovery period before he’s cleared to throw again. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Bumgarner’s total recovery time is expected to take 6-8 weeks. In a best-case scenario, the lefty said he should be able to pitch again before the All-Star break, but given the amount of time and care it’ll take for him to shoulder a full workload, it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to do so.

Bumgarner suffered the fracture during the third inning of Friday’s Cactus League game against the Royals. Whit Merrifield returned a line drive up the middle and the ball deflected off the top of Bumgarner’s pitching hand before bouncing into the infield. He chased after the ball but was unable to pick it up, and was immediately visited by manager Bruce Bochy and a team trainer before exiting the game.

The 28-year-old southpaw was gearing up for a massive comeback after losing significant playing time with an injury in 2017. During his tumultuous run with the Giants last year, he missed nearly three months on the disabled list after spraining his shoulder and bruising his ribs in a dirt bike accident. He finished the season with a 4-9 record in 17 starts and a 3.32 ERA (his first 3.00+ ERA since 2012), 1.6 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 111 innings. Without him, the Giants suffered as well; by season’s end, their pitching staff ranked seventh-worst in the National League with a cumulative 4.58 ERA and 10.1 fWAR.

This is the second massive injury the Giants’ rotation has sustained this week after right-hander Jeff Samardzija was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle on Thursday. “Horrible news for us,” Bochy told reporters after Friday’s game. “That’s all you can say about it. There’s nothing you can do but push on.”