Lance Berkman hasn’t ruled out playing again this season

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When it comes to the Cardinals and season-ending surgeries apparently “season-ending” doesn’t actually mean much of anything.

Chris Carpenter is set to return tomorrow from what was supposed to be “season-ending” surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome and now Lance Berkman is thinking about possibly returning from “season-ending” knee surgery. And in Berkman’s case he went under the knife just two weeks ago.

Here’s what the Cardinals first baseman said yesterday, via Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

I’m not ruling out a return by the end of the regular season the way it feels, but I’m not ruling it in either. I’m hopeful that if I can get the swelling calmed down and if I can get a little strength back in there and if I can get in the batting cage and see how it feels there … all these are big “ifs” … but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility.

Even if Berkman ultimately can’t return before this season is over that leaves the door wide open for the 36-year-old playing in 2013. When asked about that, Berkman cited “a lot of factors involved” in his recovery and added that “I’m holding off to the point in the offseason where I can see what kind of interest there is.”

At this point in his career moving to the American League as a full-time designated hitter would seemingly make the most sense, as it would keep Berkman’s still-productive bat in the lineup while lessening the wear and tear on his body.

With the Astros moving to the AL a reunion with his former team could be a fit for everyone involved, but Berkman downplayed that possibility to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com: “Obviously that’s been talked about. I’m not ruling anything out, but by the same token, as I sit today, it’s not something that I’m super interested in.”

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.