Lance Berkman: 'Happy to be Ranger'
Free-agent designated hitter Lance Berkman, whom sources said Saturday agreed to terms on a one-year deal pending a physical, wants Texas Rangers fans to know that he was wrong about his assessment of the club a few years ago and plans to win them over with his play.
Berkman said before the 2011 season began that he thought the Rangers were going to be an average team despite making the World Series the previous season, and he questioned whether the team's long-term deal with Adrian Beltre was "a reach."
He said prior to that World Series that he was wrong and reiterated that on Sunday.
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"I'm prepared to let bygones be bygones, but I understand the fans remembering those comments," Berkman said. "Ultimately, I had to eat some crow and I was happy to do that. I tend to share an unvarnished opinion and not everyone was going to like that answer. It was my honest opinion and I was proved to be incorrect in my assessment, and it was not the first time I've been wrong.
"This is a different team and a different scenario and I'm happy to be a part of the Rangers organization. It's a winning team. Hopefully by playing well, I'll be able to win over some of those fans I ostracized by shooting my mouth off before."
Berkman, who turns 37 next month, is scheduled to undergo his physical on Monday after agreeing to a contract that would pay him $10 million in 2013, sources confirmed. The deal includes a vesting option for a second year should Berkman reach 550 plate appearances. There's a $1 million buyout on the option year as well.
"The reality is that if things don't go well this year, even if they had given me a second year guaranteed, I'm not going to hold somebody's feet to the fire if I don't think I can perform," Berkman said. "If I have a great year, it'd be great to come back and go at it again."
Berkman is expected to be the club's primary DH in 2013, though he could also play some first base, if needed. He said Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan reached out to him a few weeks ago to gauge his interest.
He said several factors made Texas the right choice for him.
"The first reason is because they have a very good team, a competitive time and a chance to win," Berkman said. "The second is the geographic location. I think it's easy on my family being in Houston to get back and forth to Dallas. Being a native Texan, it's nice to be back in the state.
"The third reason is they made me a great offer. They made it tough to turn down. The fourth side reason, I'd call it, is that it's an AL team and I can DH and I think that's going to help keep me healthy and the past history of knee injury, that's a great spot for me to take some wear and tear off the joints."
Berkman played just 32 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012 and had two surgeries on his right knee. But in 2011, he hit .301 with 31 homers and 94 RBIs with an OPS of .959 as the Cardinals beat the Rangers in seven games in the World Series.
"I feel good," Berkman said. "I don't feel like I did when I was 25, but by the same token, considering I had two knee surgeries last year, I feel pretty good."
Berkman said he's also excited to hit at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, where he has a .289 average with seven homers and 21 RBIs in 121 career at-bats.