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.”
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.