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.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.