SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Lance Berkman knows he has rust. He’s not sure how much.
Berkman singled, walked and scored two runs in his Rangers’ spring training debut, a 10-0 win over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday that gave Texas its first exhibition victory this year after an 0-5 start.
Limited to 32 games last year with St. Louis and coming off a pair of knee operations, Berkman was held out of the first six exhibition games because of a strained right calf.
“I’m about where you would expect after having not played last year and just having one game,” he said. “I saw the ball well. My timing is obviously not there yet. It was good to get the first one out of the way. Hopefully, I’ll get into a rhythm of playing, the timing will come and everything will stay together and I’ll be in good shape going into the season.”
A six-time All-Star, Berkman had just 81 at-bats last season.
“It’s the least number of at-bats I’ve had my entire life,” Berkman said. “And probably half of those were under duress and I didn’t have my legs under me. If two weeks from now I still feel like this, I’ll say, yeah, there is more rust that needs to come off. It’s not unusual to feel a little behind and trying to catch up to the fastball. The game is fast. You need your nervous system to kind of get acclimated to it.”
Berkman isn’t worried about his run production.
“Obviously at some point you’re not going to have it,” he said. “I don’t think that happens at 37 necessarily. I certainly don’t feel like I did when I was 25 or 26. That doesn’t mean I can’t be competitive and be the same kind of hitter. I’m not that worried about it.”
Winner Derek Holland, in his last start before joining the U.S. for the World Baseball Classic, allowed three hits, struck out two and walked none in four innings.
“My main focus is always being with Texas,” Holland said. “This is a temporary leave. I get to represent the country, something you dream about. At the same time, you’ve got to remember I’m playing for Texas at all times.”
Jeff Baker had three of the Rangers’ 18 hits, and Jurickson Profar hit a two-run triple in the second inning.
In his second outing for the Indians, Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up a two-run homer to Mitch Moreland. Dice-K, Cleveland’s third pitcher, allowed four hits in two innings.
An 18-game winner in 2008 with Boston who had elbow surgery in 2011, Matsuzaka signed a minor league contract on Feb. 13 with the Indians and is competing for one of two vacancies in the rotation. He pitched two hitless innings against Cincinnati in his Indians’ exhibition debut.
“Condition-wise I didn’t feel as good as I did during my first outing,” Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. “I was hoping to hold them to zeros, but I was unable to do that. I’m trying out a few different routines as I prepare for each outing. My routine was a little different from my first outing.”
Rookie Trevor Bauer pitched two perfect innings, but the Rangers hit four other pitchers hard.
“It’s just one of those days you’re glad it’s spring training,” new Indians manager Terry Francona said.
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