ARLINGTON (AP) — Lance Berkman was back in the Texas Rangers clubhouse Friday.
It was still unclear when he would be back in the lineup.
Berkman, who has been on the disabled list since July 7 with left hip inflammation and his sore right knee, said he and team officials were going to evaluate his next step. He just completed a stretch of four minor league rehab games in five days.
“I don’t have concerns about playing, but just like I’ve said all along, there are certainly concerns about competing at the highest level that I’m capable of,” Berkman said.
“If I can’t do that, I don’t know that I would be that positive piece that the team needs moving forward.”
During his last game in rehab Wednesday night, Berkman was 0 for 1 with two walks. But he was able to score from second base on a hit, a positive sign for the 37-year-old designated hitter.
General manager Jon Daniels said Berkman’s effort level was very good and he actually ran well despite the ongoing issues with the hip and knee.
“Those aren’t going to go away,” Daniels said. “I give him a lot of credit for trying to push through it.”
The Rangers knew of the risk when they gave Berkman a $10 million contract last winter that includes a $12 million club option for 2014 with a $1 million buyout. He played only 32 games last season for St. Louis after two operations on his right knee, and the 37-year-old designated hitter had considered retirement before getting that deal.
Berkman hit .254 with six home runs and 34 RBIs in 68 games for the Rangers before going on the DL.
The Texas native is a .294 career hitter in his 15th major league season. He played for the Houston Astros from 1999-2010, part of their only World Series team in 2005. He spent the last part of 2010 with the New York Yankees before going to the Cardinals for two seasons, including their 2011 World Series title over the Rangers.
Asked if Berkman was in a position that he could help the Rangers still, Daniels responded, “Yes, on some level.”
The question is whether Berkman’s legs allow him to play every day, or if he would have to contribute in a different role.
“Those are the kind of things that we’re working through,” Daniels said.
Berkman said he planned to meet with the team’s training staff and talk to manager Ron Washington and Daniels.
“They had people watching me swing, and watching me play the last four or five days,” Berkman said. “It’s mainly just let’s get together, put our heads together and see where we go from here.”
Among the possible options is waiting another two weeks, until the rosters expand Sept. 1, before reactivating Berkman.
“There’s been some discussion along those lines,” he said. “That’s all part of the yet-to-be-made decision.”
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