Rangers notes: Lance Berkman could see time at first base soon

Posted Wednesday, May. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Lance Berkman has repeatedly said if you can’t field a ground ball on Christmas morning, you shouldn’t be in the big leagues.

So Berkman believes he can play first base when needed by the Texas Rangers.

“Of course, but the opportunity hasn’t presented itself,” Berkman said.

It could next week when the Rangers begin a nine-game road trip under National League rules with a makeup game against the Cubs on May 6 and then a two-game series against the Brewers, May 7-8.

Berkman, 37, has played 737 regular-season games at first base in his 15-year career, his last being Sept. 5 last season.

Berkman has served as the designated hitter with the Rangers, though, since he is coming off two right knee surgeries over the past year.

“The one thing we’ve accomplished is honesty,” manager Ron Washington said. “He’s been very forthright. Sometimes I try to take him out and he says he feels good. Sometimes I try to leave him in and he tells me to take him out.”

Berkman hasn’t gotten much work at first during pregame warmups, but he could start doing so in preparation of playing the field once in a while.

Nice utility option

Jeff Baker has proved his worth early on with the Rangers. He provides something the team has lacked the past few seasons, a utility player who can play multiple positions and swing the bat.

Baker hit his second homer of the season in the fourth inning Tuesday, and almost made it a two-homer game with a deep fly ball in his next at-bat in the sixth.

“That second one he hit, I saw the wind knock it down,” Ron Washington said. “He smoked that ball, oh yeah.”

Baker earned a second straight start Wednesday, playing left field again in place of David Murphy with the White Sox starting a left-hander.

Baker came through again, too, with a solo shot in the second inning off Chicago starter Chris Sale.

Darvish honored

Yu Darvish was named the Rangers’ player of the month for April. He went 5-1 with a 2.33 ERA in six starts, and leads the major leagues with 58 strikeouts.

That’s the most strikeouts in any month by a Texas pitcher since Nolan Ryan had 58 in September 1989.

With Darvish leading the way, the pitching staff combined for a franchise-record 201 strikeouts in 25 games last month. It’s just the 16th time the Rangers have had at least 200 strikeouts in a month.

“It’s a testament to the staff and the Rangers’ organization as a whole,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “It obviously starts with Darvish, and we have a lot of power arms out of the bullpen.”

Briefly

• A.J. Pierzynski hopes to catch Thursday. He reported significant improvement in his sore right oblique muscle but sat out Wednesday for precautionary reasons. “That’ll be three whole days counting the off day, so that basically gives you a long weekend,” Pierzynski said.

• President of baseball operations/GM Jon Daniels said the team was awaiting results on the vision issue that has kept Mike Olt, the team’s No. 2 prospect, out of the past six games at Triple A Round Rock. Olt has batted .139 in 20 games.

• Ron Washington made a mound visit to Robbie Ross on Tuesday. With two outs and a four-run lead in the ninth, Ross had hit Adam Dunn with a pitch and threw a first-pitch ball to Paul Konerko. “He just said, ‘Hey, Rob, let’s try to get this done. Just trying to encourage me,’” Ross said. “It was a good visit. The next pitch was a strike, and then got a groundball out.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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