Lance Berkman says knee is about “80 percent” healthy

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The Rangers signed Lance Berkman to a one-year, $10 million contract this offseason and plan to use him as their primary designated hitter in 2013. But he’ll have to be eased into that role this spring.

Berkman told Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Sunday morning that he’s only about “80 percent” recovered from the dual knee surgeries that he underwent last summer with St. Louis. The Rangers are allowing him to work at his own pace in camp and are planning to hold him out for the first couple weeks of the Cactus League schedule.

“If we need to, we can get him at-bats in a minor league game,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington.

Berkman, 37, appeared in only 32 games last season for the Cardinals, batting .259/.381/.444 with two homers and seven RBI in 97 plate appearances. He hit .301/.412/.547 with 31 home runs and 94 RBI in 2011.