ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 10: Lance Berkman #27 of the Texas Rangers hits a two run home run in the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on June 10, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
When the Texas Rangers signed veteran designated hitter Lance Berkman in the off-season, it seemed to be a prudent move that could have proven to have a lot of value with a one-year deal worth $10 million and a team option for 2014 that included a $1 million buyout.
Berkman got off to a hot start this season, showing the Rangers that they'd made a wise decision in signing the 37-year-old known for his plate discipline, ability to hit to all fields and some power, even at his advancing age.
Through the first month and a half — May 19, to be exact — Berkman was hitting .311 with a .428 on-base percentage. Since May 20, Berkman is hitting .188 with a .260 on-base percentage and has had trouble generating any power from the left side, traditionally his more powerful side of the plate. He's chalking it up to a bum right knee and hip that isn't allowing him to get any leverage with his legs — a pretty serious problem for a hitter, especially one who's had numerous knee surgeries in his career that caused him to miss most of the 2012 season with St. Louis.
Having not played since July 6, it now appears Berkman might have played his final game with the Rangers, and likely his career.
“I’ve definitely thought about it,” Berkman told The Dallas Morning News 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.”
The Rangers have another wild card in their back pocket in Manny Ramirez, who has three home runs and is crushing lefties in Triple-A Round Rock, but they have no immediate plans to call up the 40-plus-year-old.
“The reports from Round Rock have been positive in the sense that he’s been a really good teammate, really good in the clubhouse," Rangers GM Jon Daniels told ESPN 103.3 FM. "The quality of at-bats has been pretty good. Whether or not there’s really impact there, that remains to be seen.”
Maybe so, but it also seems pretty apparent Berkman isn't going to be an impact any more either. It might be time for him to retire or for the Rangers to cut bait. It's too bad, especially after his hot start, but it seems to be reality right now.