SURPRISE, Ariz. — Lance Berkman is coming off knee surgery, and the Texas Rangers want to ease him back into game action. That is part of the reason Berkman didn’t participate in Tuesday’s intrasquad game.The other?“I don’t want one of these guys to hit me over 2011,” Berkman said, smiling. “There still might be a little animosity, so I don’t want to give [the pitchers] an open shot at me.”Berkman is referring to the 2011 World Series, of course, when he played a critical role in the St. Louis Cardinals’ victory over the Rangers.In Game 6, with the Rangers ahead 9-7 going to the bottom of the 10th, Berkman had a two-out, RBI single to center off Scott Feldman that tied the game. The Cardinals won it an inning later and captured the title with a 6-2 victory in Game 7.Berkman, who signed a one-year, $11 million deal with the Rangers in the off-season, didn’t miss an opportunity to fire the first shot about the 2011 season.During the team’s annual meeting before the first full squad workout of spring training, manager Ron Washington spoke about the players in the clubhouse who had been through the “war” of a baseball season.“He forgot about me and then he was like, ‘Berkman has been through the war too,’ ” Berkman said. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, we won that war.’ ”That falls in line with what Berkman is known for, as someone who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. And his new teammates, despite the World Series ribbing, have quickly come to embrace it.“He doesn’t seem like he has a filter,” outfielder David Murphy said. “You can look at that in some good ways and some bad ways. But I wish I could be more like that. I love how real he is and that what you see is what you get.”Lighter sideWhen Yu Darvish pitched his first Rangers intrasquad game last year, there were four cameras set up on the back field as the highlights were broadcast back in Japan.There wasn’t that type of commotion Tuesday.“I’m disappointed,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “I’m big in Japan. My sponsorships must have gone down.”Darvish threw 24 pitches — including a 95 mph fastball to start his outing — allowing an unearned run on a walk and an error.He walked Jurickson Profar to start the inning and then Craig Gentry reached on an error by Elvis Andrus.Darvish said he feels “pretty good” about where he is in spring training, and even drew laughs when he commented on Andrus’ error.“Because of that no-name shortstop that committed that error on the routine ground ball, I don’t even know his name, but because of his error, I had to throw a lot of pitches,” Darvish said.Andrus took the joke in stride, saying: “If I can leave all the errors in spring training, I will.”Bean ballRobbie Ross was trying to groove in a pitch for Craig Gentry to bunt, a customary drill after every half-inning of the intrasquad game. Unfortunately, it didn’t cut as much as his normal pitches and bounced off Gentry’s thigh.“I was like, ‘oops,’ ” Ross said.No sweat, though, as Gentry wasn’t about to charge the mound.“I thought about it … but Robbie Ross is the nicest guy in the clubhouse,” Gentry said, grinning. “I’ll get him back.”Briefly• Yu Darvish on working in his first game with catcher A.J. Pierzynski: “I had heard all the rumors about him from many people and I was kind of scared. Meeting him and talking to him, he’s a nice guy. He’s really comfortable to talk to. Even if I shook some of the signs off on some of the pitches, he was comfortable with it.”• Adrian Beltre didn’t participate in Tuesday’s intrasquad game. Beltre is dealing with a minor right calf injury and has been taking it easy the past few days. He also took a grounder off the lip during the morning workout, but just had a minor cut.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison