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.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.