Lance Berkman says re-signing with Cardinals “would be my first choice”

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At times last season Lance Berkman looked washed up, posting an OPS below .800 for the first time, but he’s bounced back in a huge way this season at age 35 by hitting .290 with 29 homers and a .975 OPS.

Not surprisingly Berkman plans to keep playing in 2012, but the big question is whether he’ll re-sign with the Cardinals after resurrecting his career on a one-year, $8 million contract.

Asked yesterday about his plans, Berkman told Matthew Leach of MLB.com that he’d definitely like to stay in St. Louis:

This would be my first choice. Hopefully it will be here, but part of that is not up to me. This is a great group of guys. I think it has a lot of potential. Even if things don’t go like we want them to this year, I still feel like this is not a team that is rebuilding. It’s not a team that’s very far away from being right where it needs to be.

Surely the Cardinals would love to re-sign him to another one-year deal, but Berkman has played well enough that getting multi-year offers on the open market seems possible. If the Cardinals re-sign Albert Pujols to a monster contract will they have enough payroll space left to give multiple years to Berkman? And if Pujols leaves St. Louis as a free agent will they want to rebuild rather than re-sign the 36-year-old Berkman?

Report: José Ramírez diagnosed with knee contusion

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Indians third baseman José Ramírez had to be carted off the field in the top of the third inning of Sunday afternoon’s Cactus League game agaisnt the White Sox. Ramírez fouled a pitch off of his leg during an at-bat against pitcher Sean Nolin.

MLB.com’s Mandy Bell reports that Ramírez was diagnosed with a left knee contusion after he was taken for X-rays. The X-rays were negative, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Ramírez, 26, finished third in AL MVP Award voting last season, batting .270/.387/.552 with 39 home runs, 105 RBI, 110 runs scored, and 34 stolen bases across 698 plate appearances. He was worth 7.9 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference. If Ramírez lands on the injured list, that would obviously be a huge loss for the Indians, despite being the overwhelming favorites in the AL Central entering the season.

The Indians will already start the season without second baseman Jason Kipnis and shortstop Francisco Lindor, though both are expected to return before the end of April. The infield is in rough shape at the moment.