ARLINGTON, Texas — Lance Berkman isn’t ready to retire yet. He wants to try and help the Texas Rangers down the stretch.
The 37-year-old designated hitter who is on the disabled list said Thursday, after pondering his playing future for several days, that he’s “coming back.”
“I feel like if I can push myself and endure a little bit of discomfort to try and help this team win,” Berkman said. “I’ve made up my mind that’s what this team needs to happen and I’m going to do my dangdest to give them whatever I got.”
Berkman has been on the DL since July 7 with left hip inflammation, and has also experienced pain in his surgically repaired right knee.
He will go with the Rangers for their next six games on the West Coast to keep working out. He is targeting Aug. 8 or 9 for the start of a rehab assignment.
General manager Jon Daniels and Berkman spoke Wednesday, after the Rangers didn’t add a hitter at the non-waiver trade deadline. The switch-hitter said they “both agreed the thing to do is to keep the rehab going and try to get back out there as quick as I can.”
Berkman is hitting .254 with six home runs and 34 RBIs in 68 games.
The Rangers knew of the risk when they gave Berkman a $10 million contract last winter that includes a $12 million club option for 2014 with a $1 million buyout. He played only 32 games last season for St. Louis after two operations on his right knee.
“The hitting has never really been an issue except when I hit right-handed. It’s more running and the running is not good,” said Berkman, who while feeling better each day knows he won’t be totally pain free.
“It’s unrealistic to think I wouldn’t be playing with discomfort from here on out. It’s just a matter of managing the discomfort. The main thing is being able to run the bases.”
The Texas native is a .294 career hitter in his 15th major league season. He played for the Houston Astros from 1999-2010, part of their only World Series team in 2005. He spent the last part of 2010 with the New York Yankees before going to the Cardinals for two seasons, including their 2011 World Series title over the Rangers.
Berkman thought about retiring last offseason before signing with the Rangers, and that thought crossed his mind again during his latest DL stint.
“No doubt. It absolutely did. You get to a certain point with these injuries and it just becomes so frustrating,” he said. “It’s a mental grind. Every day you feel not good and it’s not fun to compete whenever you feel like you’re 60 percent of what you should be.”