Lance Berkman won’t crack Rangers’ interleague starting lineup

Posted Tuesday, May. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Lance Berkman said that he was flattered by the media’s prodding about playing first base during the Texas Rangers’ two-game interleague series at Miller Park, but even he knows that’s not going to happen.

There continues to be too much risk with his right knee to stick him at first base, and the guy playing first base right now isn’t doing to badly.

Mitch Moreland entered Tuesday hitting .375 over his previous 15 games, while Berkman is batting .234 over his previous 18.

“We have a first baseman,” Berkman said. “It’s all about what’s going to win a game, and right now he gives us as good of a chance as I do.”

Berkman had two knee operations last year, and said that it is feeling good enough to play in an emergency. But it’s not yet strong enough to play over a long stretch should Moreland get hurt.

Berkman, who has been available to pinch-hit, said the lateral movement and starting and stopping at first base would take more of a toll than playing left field, which manager Ron Washington said is never going to happen.

“We just want to make sure this guy is ready to go and can endure those types of things,” Washington said. “I know he can endure the DH spot. I know he can endure going up there to pinch hit.”

Pierzynski scratched

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was scratched from the Rangers’ lineup about an hour before first pitch because of tightness in his right oblique muscle.

Pierzynski sat out two games last week after it was revealed that he was dealing with the area, an issue that he has had to manage the past few seasons. Pierzynski also sat out Monday, but that was said to be for rest after catching four straight games.

Geovany Soto replaced Pierzynski behind the plate.

Facing Lohse

The pitcher many in the Rangers organization wanted to sign during spring training will oppose them Wednesday, but general manager Jon Daniels said that the club was never close to signing right-hander Kyle Lohse.

The Rangers remained in contact with agent Scott Boras and sent adviser Don Welke to watch Lohse work out, but they didn’t want to surrender their first-round draft pick as compensation for signing him.

Daniels said that he checked with Major League Baseball to see if it would approve a sign-and-trade deal that would allow the Rangers to keep the pick, but Lohse had a competitive market.

“We never really got close,” Daniels said. “It wasn’t as far along as it was reported.”

Lohse signed a three-year, $33 million contract March 25 with Milwaukee.

Minors matters

The Rangers have transferred struggling right-hander Cody Buckel from Double A Frisco to extended spring training after a move from the rotation to the bullpen didn’t fix his sudden inability to throw strikes.

Buckel will work in Arizona with rehabilitation coach Keith Comstock on no timeline to return. The goal is to get Buckel, the Rangers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2012, back on track.

“We’re going to use all our resources,” Jon Daniels said. “I think it’s more of a mental thing than a physical thing. He’s scuffling to throw strikes. We need to get that addressed.”

Third baseman Mike Olt has been placed on the Triple A disabled list with an unresolved eye issue. He has rejoined Round Rock and is working out daily, including taking batting practice, and is scheduled to see a specialist in the next 10 to 14 days.

Olt has told the Rangers that the vision problems started in spring training. The Rangers do not believe that the concussion he suffered in November during winter ball is the cause.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson

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