Lance Berkman hadn't played in a big-league game in nearly two months and hadn't seen live pitching in almost three weeks, but the veteran designated hitter was back in the lineup on Monday after being part of the Sept. 1 roster additions and making his return after two months on the disabled list with hip and knee issues that had him contemplating early retirement.
Berkman, who's almost certain to hang it up after this season, decided to stick around and see if he could help the Rangers down the stretch, much like he did over the season's first month-and-a-half when he was an on-base machine out of the 3-hole in the Rangers lineup.
In his return to the lineup on Monday, Berkman hit eighth, a spot in the order he hadn't hit in since 2010 when he was with the New York Yankees. He went 0-for-4 and looked overmatched in his first at-bat when he was way behind on a high, low-90s fastball.
But after that, things looked better for Berkman, who hit left-handed (traditionally his more powerful side of the plate) after it was hitting from the left side that had put him on the DL in the first place as his surgically repaired right knee and right hip couldn't take the torque and pressure of hitting left-handed.
Berkman hit a rope to right field with the bases loaded and one out, but it was too shallow to score Adrian Beltre from third. In the eighth inning, with two runners on, Berkman made even better contact, lacing a pitch to right-center field that was tracked down by Oakland's Eric Young.
Berkman said he's not sure what he can contribute down the stretch, but he's hoping he can do something.
“We’ll see. It’s hard to know,” Berkman told the Star-Telegram. “Ready or not, here we go. The main thing is just to go out there, compete, and do the best I can. I don’t know how I’m going to be at first, but I think if I get enough opportunities, I’ll be able to be sufficient in that role if they need me.”