End of the line? Lance Berkman to undergo season-ending knee surgery Tuesday

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UPDATE: According to B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny just announced that Berkman will undergo season-ending surgery on his knee tomorrow. It would be a darn shame to see him go out this way, but he has already hinted at retiring after this season.

10:15 AM: Lance Berkman’s status for the remainder of the season is now in doubt, as Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that the Cardinals first baseman left the team and traveled to his home in Houston to have his surgically repaired right knee examined by the doctor who performed the operation in May.

Langosch writes that “shutting him down for the season” is a possibility because Berkman has been limited to just six total plate appearances since returning from a disabled list stint for inflammation in his knee five weeks ago.

Berkman has previously indicated that he’s leaning toward retirement after the season, so if the 36-year-old doesn’t get a good diagnosis from the doctor this could be the end of the line for the one of the best and most underrated hitters of this era.

Dominic Smith likely to start the season at Triple-A

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Following the Mets’ recent signing of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that fellow first baseman Dominic Smith is likely to start the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. That is contingent, of course, on the veteran Gonzalez’s ability to remain healthy, which isn’t a guarantee.

Smith, 22, struggled last season, batting .198/.262/.395 in 183 plate appearances. The Mets have also expressed concern about Smith’s conditioning. Puma reported in November that as a result of better dietary choices and a daily exercise regimen, Smith had already lost 11-12 pounds.

Gonzalez, 35, didn’t exactly have a stellar 2017 campaign. Along with battling back issues, Gonzalez hit .242/.287/.355 in 252 PA. That the Mets’ Plan A is to go with Gonzalez over Smith says something about their confidence in Smith.