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.”

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.

Dodgers can clinch NL West on Friday

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The Dodgers staved off a four-game series sweep at the hands of the Phillies, winning 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The win reduced their magic number in the NL West to one, meaning that a win against the Giants at home or a Diamondbacks loss to the Marlins on Friday will result in clinching the division.

Of course, the Dodgers winning and the Diamondbacks losing hasn’t exactly been a sure thing lately. The D-Backs rattled off a 13-game winning streak from August 24 through September 6. The Dodgers lost 11 games in a row from September 2-11 and were on a four-game slide before Thursday’s win.

The Dodgers will send Rich Hill to the mound to start opposite Jeff Samardzija. The Diamondbacks have Zack Greinke opposing Adam Conley.