TUESDAY: Berkman told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that he needs to make a decision on his future soon. Berkman is taking batting practice today and tomorrow but recognizes that if he can't be headed toward a rehab assignment soon, he may have to call it a season. Jeff Wilson of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram also spoke with Berkman, who told him that he jogged a short while ago and it was "not good, to be honest."
THURSDAY: The Rangers are already in the market for a hitter with eyes on Alex Rios, Hunter Pence and Kendrys Morales, but they may need more help than they originally thought. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that injured designated hitter Lance Berkman has considered shutting himself down for the rest of the season and possibly even retiring due to concerns over his surgically repaired right knee.
Berkman, 37, is currently on the disabled list with hip inflammation, but Grant reports that an inability to extend the right knee on which he has twice had surgery has been bothering him longer than his hip. Grant spoke to Berkman directly:
“I’ve definitely thought about it,” Berkman said of shutting down for the remainder of the season. “But I haven’t reached any final decisions on it. Hopefully I’ll do the best that I can and help the team. It could also depend on what the team’s needs are. This is an uncertain time of the year for everybody.”
Berkman was eligible to come of the disabled list on Monday but just began running on Wednesday, Grant reports. If he does sit out the remainder of the season, the two sides could work out an agreement in which Texas would only pay him a portion of the remaining $4.5MM on his contract in order to provide more payroll flexibility in trades.
Berkman signed with the Rangers this offseason on a one-year, $10MM contract that contains a $13MM vesting option for 2014. The option vests at 550 plate appearances, which Berkman will now surely not reach. In 282 trips to the plate this season, he's batted .254/.355/.377 with six homers. Injuries have limited him to just 100 games since the start of the 2012 season.
The Rangers, of course, have another veteran DH candidate in the organization after signing Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal earlier this month. Ramirez hit well overseas in Taiwain with the EDR Rhinos for the early portion of the season, but his bat has cooled after a hot start in Triple-A Round Rock. He's hitting .250/.323/.411 with three homers through 62 plate appearances entering play today.