FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has the scoop:
Free agent Lance Berkman still has not decided that he will play in 2013. But he is talking about a possible return with multiple clubs, including the Texas Rangers, major-league sources say.
Berkman — a native of Waco, Texas — considered signing with the Rangers before the 2011 season but instead joined the Cardinals and went on to win his first World Series ring. He re-signed with St. Louis for the 2012 season but appeared in only 23 games because of knee and calf issues.
The 36-year-old could serve as the Rangers’ primary designated hitter this summer — a role manned last year by Michael Young. Berkman has undergone multiple recent knee procedures but is claiming to be healthy.
The Astros are also known to have interest, but “Big Puma” probably prefers to join a contender.
Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.
This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.
Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.
Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.