When the Cardinals signed Lance Berkman to an $8 million deal this offseason guys like me wondered about the wisdom of asking a 35-year-old who’s not in particularly outstanding shape and hasn’t played the outfield since 2007 to be an everyday right fielder.
Sub par defense is all but assured, as Berkman was hardly a strong defender when he played the outfield regularly five years ago, but another issue is that the increased ground to cover and throws to make figure to present an increased injury risk after three years as a first baseman/designated hitter.
Berkman’s elbow started barking almost immediately, so the Cardinals limited him to designated hitter duties early in camp, but now he’s been scratched from the lineup altogether because of a sore calf muscle.
Berkman told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he’s “perfectly fine” and would have played if it weren’t early in spring training, but once the season starts the DH option will go away while the aches and pains probably won’t.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.
Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”
Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.
Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.