Lance Berkman tweaked his left calf while legging out a triple in Tuesday’s win over the Reds, and a subsequent MRI has revealed that he has a small muscle tear. A small tear is essentially a strain, and calf strains often send players to the disabled list. The Cardinals, though, are optimistic that Berkman can avoid the DL, hopefully returning by next Tuesday.
"There's not a huge tear in the muscle. They said they're looking at Tuesday, which I think is more than realistic," Berkman said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The injury comes at a good time for the Cards in one sense, as they had an off day Thursday and will have another one Monday, so Puma could wind up missing just four games. But, it’s poor timing in that Allen Craig, who would have filled in for Berkman, is on the disabled list while working his way back from offseason knee surgery. Craig could begin a rehab assignment within the next week, but obviously he’d become a possible option at first base only if Berkman suffers a setback.
For the time being, Matt Carpenter will be the Cards’ primary first baseman. But, if Berkman’s injury should linger and Craig isn’t ready to return yet, prospect Matt Adams could become a possibility. The 2011 Texas League MVP is off to a big start at Triple-A Memphis, batting .346/.393/.769 with three homers going into Thursday’s games.
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Morse Shut Down
The Nationals had been hoping to get Michael Morse (lat) back in the lineup for Thursday’s home opener. As it turns out, they’ll be lucky to have him for their first home game in June.
Morse will be shut down for the next six weeks after feeling discomfort while making throws during a rehab game Monday. That means he won’t even pick up a ball or a bat until late May, and it will probably be at least a couple weeks after that until he’ll be ready to re-start a rehab assignment.
It’s an unfortunate bit of news for the Nationals and for Morse’s fantasy owners, but perhaps we should have seen this coming. Morse was able to avoid the disabled list last season during his breakout year, playing in easily a career-high 146 games. But, he’s been brittle in the past, particularly in his days with the Mariners. From 2004-2008, the 30-year-old played in 100+ games only once. His fragility is a major reason why Seattle finally cut him loose.
As for what the Nationals will do while Morse is out, they’ll continue to roll with the unintimidating trio of Mark DeRosa, Xavier Nady and Roger Bernadina in left field. It will be interesting, though, if Morse’s absence makes the Nats consider promoting Bryce Harper a bit earlier. Harper is off to a slow start at Triple-A Syracuse, batting just .261/.320/.391 with no homers going into Thursday’s action. And, Washington undoubtedly would like to avoid starting his service time clock too early. But, if their offense starts to scuffle, perhaps they’ll consider it.
He had to wait until the season was already a week old (or, two weeks if you count the Japan series), but it appears that Johnny Damon finally has a home.
Multiple reports are saying that the Indians have a deal in place with the veteran outfielder/DH, pending a physical. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that he'll make $1.25 million in guaranteed salary while his contract includes $1.4 million in potential performance bonuses. It’s an unusual deal, as the contract reportedly will contain an out clause that Damon can exercise on a specified date following Grady Sizemore's return from the disabled list. Sizemore could be back sometime in June, but that’s just an educated guess at this point.
Damon, who batted .261/.326/.418 with 16 home runs, 73 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 150 games last season for the Rays, would handle the left field job, pushing Shelley Duncan to the bench. He would give the team a bit of an upgrade defensively, as well as provide them with a more established hitter. We’re not so sure that he’s much better of an option than Duncan at this point, though he should be able to churn out some AL-only value.
National League Quick Hits: Stephen Drew participated in an extended spring training game Thursday, going 1-for-4 at the plate. It’s his first game action since undergoing ankle surgery last July, though he didn’t run the bases or play the field. Drew likely won’t be ready to return until May … The Mets have received good news on David Wright, as it appears he might not need a trip to the disabled list for a small fracture in his right pinkie. Wright will test out the finger before Friday’s game before a decision is made … Nationals third base prospect Anthony Rendon has been diagnosed with a partial fracture in his left ankle and likely will be sidelined for a couple months. Rendon has had ankle issues in the past, though they have involved his right ankle … Jed Lowrie (thumb) has been activated from the disabled list and will return to the lineup Friday. He’ll push Marwin Gonzalez into a utility role … Adam LaRoche has gotten off to an unexpectedly hot start this season, batting .345/.406/.586 with two homers and eight RBI. It’s surprising given that he’s usually a slow starter, is coming back from shoulder surgery and was limited in spring training by a foot ailment … Brad Lidge blew a save chance on Thursday, though the Nats were able to rally and win in extras. He and Henry Rodriguez have been sharing the closer role, but obviously Rodriguez could run with the gig if Lidge has any more hiccups … Brian Wilson turned his ankle while barely converting a save Thursday, but he’s expected to be OK … Tim Hudson allowed five runs over four innings Thursday in his second minor league rehab start with Class A Rome and remains on track to come off the disabled list in late April or early May …
American League Quick Hits: Jeremy Hellickson (head) will be able to make his scheduled start Saturday. The young right-hander was hit on the head by a ball during batting practice Wednesday, but he passed a variety of tests and has been cleared for action … Luke Scott hasn’t played since last weekend due to a hamstring injury. He could return to the lineup Friday, though, if batting practice on Thursday goes well … Lorenzo Cain has landed on the disabled list with a strained left groin. He had a huge spring, but his season has gotten off to a disappointing start, as he was batting just .133/.176/.133 at the time of the injury … Scott Downs left Thursday's game with a right ankle contusion after having his foot stepped on by Denard Span when he was trying to cover first base. He’ll undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the damage … Jerome Williams is over his hamstring injury and has been cleared to join the Angels' starting rotation Sunday against the Yankees. He pitched well at times for the Halos last year,
but we wouldn’t trust him for fantasy purposes … Rangers manager Ron Washington said Joe Nathan will remain the team’s closer despite picking up two losses and one blown save in the early going. Mike Adams picked up a save Thursday while Nathan was resting, though he gave up a run in the process … Both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau homered Thursday, marking the first time they did so in the same game since July 6, 2010.