Lance Berkman admits he doesn’t have “any bat speed”

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Lance Berkman made the final out in the Cardinals’ crushing 4-3 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday afternoon at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, lofting a bases-loaded fly-out to the warning track in deep left field.

“Big Puma” is now 0-for-8 with three walks and four strikeouts since returning this past weekend from knee surgery, and acknowledged to B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest on Wednesday evening that he doesn’t feel like he has very much strength:

“I just don’t have any bat speed right now,” said the 36-year-old first baseman. “That ball I hit in the ninth, that’s a grand slam. If I have my normal bat speed, it goes out of the ballpark, but I don’t and it died on the warning track.”

Perhaps Berkman should have spent a week or so on a minor league rehab assignment. With it being too late for that now, the Cardinals will merely hope that he can get back on track by taking extra batting practice.

Berkman is hitting .275/.393/.471 with one home run and four RBI in 61 total plate appearances this year.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.