Lance Berkman reported to Jupiter this morning for his first Spring Training outside the Houston Astros’ organization. Then later on in the day came word that Jim Edmonds was retiring from baseball.
The announcement wasn’t a surprise because the sense here in Jupiter all week was that things weren’t going well with his rehab. Edmonds and the Cardinals released a statement today indicating that Jimmy Ballgame was calling it a career because of the risk of permanent damage to his achilles tendon if he were to contine playing.
Upon hearing the news of Edmonds’ retirement, Albert Pujols offered up some thoughts…
“Jimmy cared so much about helping players out, just to walk you through (things). He meant a lot to me back then (as a rookie) and still does because he took me to another level.”
“When I had the opportunity to play left field and right field, he helped me to get better out there. He didn’t have to but he knew if I could get better it was going to help the ballclub. He was about winning and giving every effort out there for us.”
“He would whistle at me (when playing the outfield) or say something and I’m like “What are you talking about?” He’s like “move to the right” or “move to the left” or “come to me” (or) “move down the line.” Then here comes the ball. It was unbelievable.”
“He was in the game, he always to tried to make everyone around him better and that’s why he won so many Gold Gloves out there. I think he’s a pretty good consideration, when his time comes, to be on the ballot for the Hall of Fame.”
Berkman is known for being a character, a guy who is both straight forward and entertaining, and he did not disappoint on his first day in the Cards’ clubhouse.
Here are some of the highlights from Berkman’s chat with the press today:
– When asked if Cardinals pitchers were happy they didn’t have to face him anymore Berkman had a little fun at his own expense…
“I don’t know, last year I was making a lot of outs so they might like “we wish he was still over there on that other side.” Really more than anything else I just fee like we have a great opportunity because of the personnel we have.”
– When as ked if he feels strong entering Spring Training…
“I mean, look at me. I’m huge! (laughing) I feel good, that’s all I can say. I’m running as well as I have in my entire life, probably. I feel great. Hopefully that’ll translate into me playing good defense out there in left or right or wherever they’ve got me.”
– When asked about the potential damage the middle of the Cardinals lineup can do this year…
“It’s got the potential to be a great middle of the order. Obviously, the question mark is me. I think you know what you’re going to get out of Albert and, of course, Matt is very consistent and a great hitter. If I can hit somewhere close to the way I’ve been capable of hitting in the past then we should have a very good middle of the order.”
– On moving back to the outfield…
“If they hit in the air you catch it. If they hit on the ground you pick it up and throw it to the guy. It’s not rocket science and I don’t think that it’s going to take me very long to feel good out there.”
– More on him in the outfield, this time with Chris Carpenter standing behind the pack of reporters listening in on the conversation…
“I mean, the way I figure it’s not my earned run. That’s how I look at it. (Carpenter laughs out loud and walks away, Berkman laughs out loud and so does everyone else before Berkman continues to answer the question)
Great, great stuff from Berkman. He’s going to be a fun one to have around the locker room, no doubt about that.