Despite undergoing two surgeries on his ailing right knee since May, veteran slugger Lance Berkman isn't ready to call it a career just yet.
According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the 37-year-old switch-hitter is set to return for the 2013 season after agreeing to a one-year deal worth $10 million with the Texas Rangers on Saturday. Rosenthal also added the deal could include a vesting option for 2014. That was later confirmed by Jon Heyman, making it more likely this is the final contract Berkman signs in his productive career.
Berkman is expected to begin the season as the Rangers primary designated hitter, which should work out well for both sides if he can stay healthy and give them 400-500 plate appearances. Of course it's anyone's guess just how well his knee will hold up after he lasted just 13 games in 2012 before undergoing the original surgery, and only 19 more after his return following the all-star break.
That the right knee ultimately required a second surgery — third overall in his career — and his left knee is now aching as a result of overcompensation, makes it seem less likely that Berkman will make a significant impact, but it's nice to see him give it a go as he closes in on 400 home runs and 2,000 hits. And that's not to suggest reaching those milestones are the sole motivation for his return, but they can't be ignored, either.
It's also cool to see the Waco, Texas native's career come full circle after he played high school and college ball — at Rice University — in his home state and began his professional career with the Houston Astros. But there's a touch of irony, too, considering Berkman's history of speaking out against the DH rule and the American League in general.
Obviously having the opportunity to continue his career in that capacity outweighed his personal feelings on the matter, but it will certainly be interesting to hear how he answers questions on those subjects when they're inevitably brought up in spring training.