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.
Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:
Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.
They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.
Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.
Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.
So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.