Berkman conservative in projecting return

Berkman conservative in projecting return

Berkman conservative in projecting return

ARLINGTON -- Rangers designated hitter Lance Berkman, on the disabled list with inflammation in his left hip, was asked on Wednesday if there was a baseball game in his future.

"Somewhere in the distant future," Berkman said. "We'll see."

Berkman is eligible to come off the disabled list but isn't close to being ready. He is taking batting practice on the field but hasn't done any legitimate running.

"It feels OK, but it's probably still not quite ready," Berkman said of his hip.

The hip is not the only issue. Berkman is still dealing with chronic soreness in his right knee, which has been operated on four times in his career, including twice last season. The knee, which gives Berkman more trouble when he bats left-handed than from the right side, is a big reason Berkman was hitting .254 with a .377 slugging percentage this season before being placed on the disabled list.

"It feels a little better," Berkman said of his knee. "I don't think it will ever be totally right. But having not played on it lately, it's not quite as sore."

Right now, Berkman is doing everything he can to get back into the lineup, but the Rangers are actively looking for offensive help. Part of that is to be prepared in case Berkman is unable to return this season.

"He's progressing, but it's slow," manager Ron Washington said. "We just have to let it go through the process. He'll let us know when he's ready."

With Berkman out, the Rangers have been rotating players through the designated hitter spot. Texas has had nine players start at least one game at DH, posting a combined batting average of .254, seventh best in the American League. Rangers DHs entered Wednesday 10th in the AL with a .389 slugging percentage -- the lowest mark by the club's designated hitters since 1990.

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.