Filling Lance Berkman's void

Updated: May 21, 2012, 1:28 PM ET
By Buster Olney

LOS ANGELES -- Lance Berkman limped into the lobby of the hotel where the St. Louis Cardinals stayed here early Sunday afternoon, ready to check out. He was cheerful, as always, but he was direct in expressing concern about the condition of his right knee: Yes, he is worried that doctors will tell him, after his MRI today, that he has a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

The best-case scenario is that his injury -- he said the knee has felt loose since spring training -- is just a torn meniscus. If that's the case, Berkman will have cleanup surgery and be out a few weeks.

But if, in fact, Berkman has a torn ACL, well, he knows all too well about that. He tore his ACL before, making a benign cut playing flag football. "You might have heard about that," Berkman said drolly.

If Berkman has a torn ACL, the injury would end his season and maybe his career. Berkman is 36 years old, he's playing with a one-year deal, and he's reached the stage of his life when he would have to decide if he wants to go through the rigors of a lengthy rehabilitation to try to resume his career. Berkman is a smart and talented guy, and he would be a natural on television or radio. Or maybe he'd want to coach somewhere or begin a path that would take him into managing.

To read Buster Olney's full blog every morning and keep up with the news around baseball, sign up today and become an ESPN Insider.