Lance Berkman has started five of eight games since returning from knee surgery and both the switch-hitting first baseman and manager Mike Matheny indicated that the reduced workload may be a long-term plan.
Not only is keeping the 36-year-old healthy a big consideration, the Cardinals have a logjam of capable hitters and Berkman explained to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he’s perfectly fine giving up at-bats to guys like Allen Craig:
We’ve got a surplus of guys now for our lineup spots. Everybody deserves to play, really. You could make the case that everybody but me deserves to play. I’m OK with that. I think the development of young guys is fun to watch and I don’t want to retard AC’s development in any way. He’s certainly earned a place in the lineup.
Throughout his career Berkman has been much better against right-handed pitching, so giving him regular days off versus left-handers would seemingly be the easiest solution for what Matheny called “a lot of juggling going on.”
Berkman has struggled since coming off the disabled list, but overall this season he’s hit .281 with an .847 OPS in 21 games after being one of the NL’s best hitters last year.
The Giants made several roster moves on Saturday, most notably acquiring Twins outfielder Michael Reed in exchange for outfielder John Andreoli and cash considerations. The swap allowed the Twins to clear some space on their 40-man roster for more pitching depth, while the Giants designated lefty reliever Steven Okert for assignment in order to make room for Reed.
Reed, 26, split the majority of his 2018 season at Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett, where he hit a combined .342/.453/.520 with 11 home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 13 chances), and a .972 OPS across 404 plate appearances. He made the most of his brief appearance with the Braves, going 2-for-7 with a pair of base hits and three strikeouts, but still has yet to see more than eight games in the majors in any season to date.
Andreoli, 28, debuted with the Mariners in 2018. While he made a decent showing in Triple-A Tacoma, slashing .287/.397/.401 with three homers and a .798 OPS, he struggled to stay above the Mendoza Line in back-to-back MLB stints with Seattle and Baltimore.
In an additional move on Saturday, the Giants also acquired outfielder Mike Yastrzemski in a trade with the Orioles. Both Reed and Yastrzemski will give the club some much-needed center field depth after they released veteran outfielder Cameron Maybin on Friday.