Unfortunately, one of the Cardinal’s main struggles this season was with the injury bug (Here is an extensive list of every time a Cardinal has been on the Injuries report). One Cardinal who has spent more than his fair share of time this season injured is Lance Berkman, the reigning 2011 NL Comeback Player of the Year. Last season, Berkman batted .301 with 31 homeruns and 94 RBIs, his first in St. Louis. Berkman was especially lethal against the Texas Rangers in the World Series last year, where he helped the Cards triumph by going 11-for-26 with a home run and five RBIs in 7 games. This season, due to a combination of calf and knee issues, has only played in 32 games, and hasn’t had the chance to contribute the way he did last year.
Berkman has been talking optimistically about his chances of coming back to play this postseason. He has been taking swings and lightly running in practice, in the hope of possibly returning for the World Series if the Cardinals advance. How much he could positively contribute, however, is up to question due to how much time he has spent off the field. Even Berkman admitted that the man who replaced him in the lineup this year, Allen Craig, has played phenomenally, calling him, “probably the most productive hitter per at-bat in the Major Leagues this year,”. Berkman went on to praise the organization calling it a testament to the front office’s ability to develop, “a deep organization with a lot of talent. That’s hats off to ‘Mo’ [General Manager John Mozeliak] and the rest of the front office for drafting players and getting guys in the system and getting them up to the big league level. There’s a lot of guys they’re excited about that are still coming.”
Bottom line: While a healthy Berkman would definitely provide a welcome boost to the already potent Cardinals lineup, it’s hard to see this season’s version of Berkman coming back and seeing any significant at-bats in a potential World Series. Interestingly enough, Berkman feels no rush to get back into the lineup. He had this to say about how it has been so far missing out on this postseason: “With my postseason experience last year, I feel pretty fulfilled… Obviously, having been with these guys for two years, you definitely want to go to war with them. But by the same token, to be honest with you, I feel fine sitting over there watching it”. Considering the candidness of Berkman’s talk this season about potentially retiring at season’s end, we may have seen the last of Lance Berkman on a baseball diamond.