Lance Berkman said late last month that he’s leaning towards retirement because of his knee problems. In an interview with FOX 26 on Thursday, he elaborated on that possibility, saying that if he does retire, he plans to return to Rice University to get his degree and serve as a student assistant for the baseball team.
Berkman has already reached out to Owls baseball coach Wayne Graham about the possibility:
“We make our home in Houston,” Berkman said. “I went to Rice. The program did a lot of for me. I would love to do something for the program.
All of those things make it sort of a no-brainer on my end. I’m just happy Coach Graham feels like that I would be enough of an asset to come in and try to help that team win. And really in a lot of ways it’s more exciting that trying to continue my own baseball career.”
Berkman is just 36 and he was one of the National League’s best players a year ago, so it’d be a shame to see him go so soon. However, he doesn’t appear interested in serving as a DH in the American League and he’s not sure he wants to put his body through another year as an NL regular. He’s played in just 30 games this season and hit .263 with two homers in 80 at-bats.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.