Written By Michael Barber

The Cardinals have played only two full games in 2012 with all of their prospective position players active. Beginning in less than a week, manager Mike Matheny expects to experience a third game with his full squad of position players sometime during the Cards 6 game road trip to open the second half of the season, as first basemen Lance Berkman is scheduled to return. Berkman has played in only 13 games during the 2012 campaign, sidelined since late May after having surgery on his right knee.

More importantly, Berkman has successfully convinced the Cardinals coaching staff to skip the normal rehab assignment–this case in class AA Springfield– and earned a spot directly back onto the major league roster. Berkman will travel to Cincinnati with the team and continue to take batting practice and participate in workouts in an effort to prove that he is ready for game action. Matheny said that “there are things we need to see baseball-wise” before Berkman is reinstated into the regular lineup, but the emergence of Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter gives the Cards options at first base and ample opportunity to give the veteran Berkman a day off here or there.

For a team that has suffered more than its fair share of injuries, the return of Lance Berkman should give the Cardinals a second half boost, as they sit only 2.5 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates entering the second half of the Major League schedule.