Lance Berkman doesn't show rust in debut

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
5:28
PM CT
Lance Berkman is 37 years old. He missed the first six Cactus League games with a sore calf and only had 81 at-bats last season. There were plenty of reasons to expect the Texas Rangers' new designated hitter to be rusty for his spring debut Thursday. But that wasn't the case.

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Berkman hit leadoff for his new team and looked impressive at the plate while going 2-for-3 and scoring two runs. He got plenty of work on the bases and didn't show any problems with his calf.

"It was good to get the first one out of the way," Berkman said. "Hopefully I can get into a rhythm of playing; the timing will come and I'll be in good shape going into the season."

It wasn't a coincidence that Texas erupted for 10 runs while winning its first game of the spring on the same day Berkman entered the lineup. The offense has struggled early on, but it scored eight runs yesterday and topped that Thursday with another big hitter joining the lineup.

[+] EnlargeLance Berkman
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelLance Berkman was 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and was lauded for his baserunning by Ron Washington.
Berkman said he is still working on his timing, but he didn't seem to have any trouble early on. He worked a walk in a nine-pitch at bat in the first inning. When David Murphy doubled two batters later, the 15-year veteran made his way from first to third with no problem. Berkman delivered a line-drive single to right field in his second at-bat.

"Berkman set the stage with that first-inning at-bat," manager Ron Washington said. "It was nice to see him go up there and show the ability that he has -- make the pitcher throw pitches over the plate. That set the tone."

In addition to looking good at the plate, Berkman also impressed on the basepaths. Washington singled out a play in the first inning when Berkman scored from third on a chopper back to the pitcher. He also noted that Berkman was able to score from second on a hard-hit ball to left field in the second inning.

"We've been stressing aggressive base running and using your instincts out there," Washington said. "On that one he scored on the chopper back to the pitcher, I don't know how many guys would have reacted the way he reacted. I certainly told him to let the guys in the dugout know what he did."

Berkman likely won't play Friday, as he is expected to be limited to playing every other day so his recovery can be monitored. If that is the case, he will be in the lineup Saturday. He will be limited to three innings for the time being when he does play.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.34 126 163
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .325
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 75
RA. Beltre 77
OPSA. Beltre .882
ERAC. Lewis 5.34
SOY. Darvish 182