Lance Berkman homers, singles in rehab debut

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There was talk last month about Lance Berkman retiring early due to lingering concerns about his hip and surgically-repaired right knee. But that turned out to be total nonsense and the veteran first baseman is now making strides toward a mid-August return.

According to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Berkman hit a solo home run over the left-center field fence in his second at-bat and laced an RBI single in his third at-bat during his rehab debut Saturday with the Triple-A Round Rock Express.

He struck out in his only other trip to the plate.

Berkman hasn’t appeared in a game for the Rangers since July 6 and was batting just .254/.355/.377 in 68 games before going down. But the 37-year-old has a couple million reasons to keep working his way back.

Berkman signed a one-year, $11 million contract with Texas this winter with a $12 million option for 2014.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.