Struggling Rangers DH Berkman gets another day off
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Lance Berkman walked in the Texas clubhouse Monday and saw his name unexpectedly missing from the starting lineup for the second game in a row.
There was no argument from the struggling designated hitter.
“It’s no big deal,” Berkman said. “I don’t mind it. It’s not something I’m upset about. I take it as a day to regroup and come back tomorrow.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington said he just felt Berkman, who hit only .192 (15 for 78) his past 21 games, needed an extra day off and would be back in the lineup Tuesday.
Berkman has only three RBIs and one extra-base hit the past 18 games. The 37-year-old switch-hitting DH is batting a season-low .266 with five home runs and 31 RBIs.
With Berkman out of the lineup again and Adrian Beltre back at third base after being the DH on Sunday, when the Rangers lost their sixth consecutive game, 20-year-old rookie Jurickson Profar was the designated hitter and batted leadoff Monday night for the opener of a four-game series against AL West-leading Oakland. Profar became the youngest DH in club history.
Berkman played only 32 games with St. Louis last season because of two operations on his right knee and a left calf strain, and thought about retiring before agreeing to an $11 million, one-year deal with Texas to be primarily the DH. Despite his struggles after a strong start to the season, Berkman said he feels fine physically.
“I feel pretty good in terms of not having a lot of pain,” Berkman said. “Obviously, I think mechanically things aren’t as good as they have been in the past. So I’m going to keep working on that.”
Asked if there was anything in particular bothering him, Berkman said it’s hard to keep his front (right) leg straightened when batting left-handed. That affects his bat speed, but he didn’t even realize that was an issue until watching some film recently.
“It’s kind of one of those unbeknownst to me things. I’ve been looking at a lot of film from 2011 when I swung the bat pretty well and try to compare and contrast to what’s different now. That’s one thing that jumps out at me right away,” he said. “I noticed I wasn’t getting the same foundation from my front leg that I’ve been getting in the past. The good thing is it hasn’t been painful. It’s more of a mechanical issue which I’m going to try and address.”
In 2011 while playing for a World Series championship team in St. Louis, Berkman hit .301 with 31 homers and 94 RBIs in 145 games.
Berkman also pointed out another World Series season for him, in 2005 for Houston, when he was coming off ACL surgery.
“I didn’t feel right,” he said. “Then everything clicked.”
Berkman hit .293 with 24 homers that season, 18 of the long balls coming after the All-Star break.