ARLINGTON -- Designated hitter Lance Berkman was out of the lineup for the second straight game on Monday as the Rangers try to get him back as physically strong as possible. Berkman had two operations on his right knee last season and four total in his career, and there is a concern that has taken away some of his power at the plate.
Berkman, a switch-hitter, said he is still not able to completely straighten the leg and that impacts his swing from the left side. A left-handed hitter relies on a "firm" front right leg to plant and generate powerful bat speed. Right now that's not happening for Berkman.
"I'm not getting the same foundation as I have been in the past and that causes a variety of problems," Berkman said. "It's not painful, it's just mechanical, a mechanical adjustment I need to make. When you've been doing it one way your whole life, it's hard to make an adjustment at 37 years of age. Sometimes it takes time to have the same effect. I haven't felt right for a good while. I'll keep working at it and hopefully I'll be as explosive as I have been in the past."
Through his career, Berkman has always been considered a better left-handed hitter than right. But he went into Monday's game hitting .283 with a .467 slugging percentage from the right side and .260 with a .364 slugging percentage from the left side. For his career, he has a .578 slugging percentage from the left side and .417 from the right.
"I've never been a great right-handed hitter," Berkman said. "But right-handed I feel I'm swinging the bat well. At least I feel confident and I have a fighting chance."
Manager Ron Washington said Berkman will be back in the lineup on Tuesday. But the Rangers will likely start getting him at least one or two days off per week as the season progresses to help keep him as strong as possible.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.