Lance Berkman admits he doesn’t have “any bat speed”

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Lance Berkman made the final out in the Cardinals’ crushing 4-3 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday afternoon at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, lofting a bases-loaded fly-out to the warning track in deep left field.

“Big Puma” is now 0-for-8 with three walks and four strikeouts since returning this past weekend from knee surgery, and acknowledged to B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest on Wednesday evening that he doesn’t feel like he has very much strength:

“I just don’t have any bat speed right now,” said the 36-year-old first baseman. “That ball I hit in the ninth, that’s a grand slam. If I have my normal bat speed, it goes out of the ballpark, but I don’t and it died on the warning track.”

Perhaps Berkman should have spent a week or so on a minor league rehab assignment. With it being too late for that now, the Cardinals will merely hope that he can get back on track by taking extra batting practice.

Berkman is hitting .275/.393/.471 with one home run and four RBI in 61 total plate appearances this year.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.