Lance Berkman homers, singles in rehab debut

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There was talk last month about Lance Berkman retiring early due to lingering concerns about his hip and surgically-repaired right knee. But that turned out to be total nonsense and the veteran first baseman is now making strides toward a mid-August return.

According to Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Berkman hit a solo home run over the left-center field fence in his second at-bat and laced an RBI single in his third at-bat during his rehab debut Saturday with the Triple-A Round Rock Express.

He struck out in his only other trip to the plate.

Berkman hasn’t appeared in a game for the Rangers since July 6 and was batting just .254/.355/.377 in 68 games before going down. But the 37-year-old has a couple million reasons to keep working his way back.

Berkman signed a one-year, $11 million contract with Texas this winter with a $12 million option for 2014.

Video: Starling Marte refuses to take first base after being hit by pitch

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was hit on the hand by a Jack Flaherty pitch in the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Cardinals. Rather than take first base, Marte — who came to the plate with a runner on first base — insisted to home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman that the ball hit the knob of the bat, not his hand. Marte was allowed to continue his at-bat, though manager Clint Hurdle came out to discuss the ruling with Dreckman. Marte eventually grounded into a fielder’s choice. He then got caught attempting to steal second base and the Pirates scored zero runs in the inning.

According to Baseball Prospectus, a team that has runners on first and second with no outs is expected to score 1.55 runs. Having a runner on first base with one out yields 0.56 expected runs. Marte essentially cost his team a run by rejecting first base. Oops.