When Lance Berkman was signed this winter to bring the Texas Rangers a middle-of-the-order option to help replace the departed Josh Hamilton, there were some eyebrows raised regarding the aging vet's health and what he could provide offensively for the Rangers after years with the Houston Astros and most recently, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Berkman was a big part of the Cardinals' 2011 World Series win over the Rangers but missed most of the 2012 season after undergoing knee surgery.
As the 2013 season began, Berkman was living up to his billing, hitting third in the Rangers' order and getting on base at a ridiculous clip, but from about mid-May on, Berkman just couldn't keep up with the pace, and neither could his right knee.
Berkman was placed on the disabled list on July 7, as he'd seen his batting average dip to .254 with a .355 on-base percentage, down about 100 points in each category from what he did in the first month and a half.
Now, it appears Berkman is close to retiring from baseball and heading back to Houston, where he spent the first 11 1/2 seasons of his career and played collegiately at Rice. Berkman has met with the Rangers' front office recently and expressed his concern that his right knee isn't improving and he doesn't feel he can add anything to the Rangers' offense any time soon, if ever again.
Berkman had planned to take batting practice prior to Tuesday's game in Arlington but had to shut it down after his running prior to BP didn't go well.
"You have to fish or cut bait, and we're getting down to that point rather quickly," Berkman told local media. "I don't want to let this thing linger and linger and linger because I'm not doing the team or myself any good by doing that. There does come a point in time where you have to make a decision, and it's either yea or nay and that's it."
Berkman signed a $10 million deal for 2013 with a $1 million option for 2014. He's still owed about $4.4 million for the remainder of 2013 and is expected to seek some sort of financial settlement according to MLB.com's Richard Justice, not just "forfeit" the remainder of his salary, as has been reported by several outlets.
Time will tell what decision he does make, but you have to give Berkman some credit if he does retire when he could just stay on the DL and collect a paycheck for the remainder of the year.
Sad way to see a great hitter's career come to an end, but it's not all that surprising.