Lance Berkman

Lance Berkman’s knee problems have him thinking about retirement

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Lance Berkman is currently on the disabled list with left hip inflammation, but his surgically-repaired right knee is the bigger issue right now. In fact, he tells Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News that he has considered shutting it down for the rest of the season or even retiring if he doesn’t make progress soon.

“I’ve definitely thought about it,” Berkman said of shutting down for the remainder of the season. “But I haven’t reached any final decisions on it. Hopefully I’ll do the best that I can and help the team. It could also depend on what the team’s needs are. This is an uncertain time of the year for everybody.”

Berkman has already had four surgeries on his right knee and is having trouble fully extending it right now. The 37-year-old was eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but he just resumed running yesterday. His return is still a ways off, if at all.

Injuries limited Berkman to just 32 games with the Cardinals last season, so many were surprised when the Rangers gave him a one-year, $11 million contract over the winter. They’ve received little bang for their buck so far, as he’s batting just .254 with six home runs and a .732 OPS through 68 games this season.

Grant notes that the Rangers have been keeping their eye on hitters like Alex Rios, Hunter Pence, and Kendrys Morales over the past couple of weeks, in part to secure an insurance policy for Nelson Cruz in case of a suspension, but they could ramp up their efforts to land a bat if they feel Berkman can’t be counted on.

Twins’ minor league pitcher Landa dies in Venezuela

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 05:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins makes a throw to first base during the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Hammond Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.

The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.

Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.

Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.

Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.