Berkman May Pinch-Hit, Punto Goes on DL
ST. LOUIS (AP) — All-Star slugger Lance Berkman is out of the lineup again for the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs.
Berkman, who leads the National League with 27 home runs, was hurt Sunday in the ninth inning at Pittsburgh. He singled to left field and said when he got to first base, he felt a mild strain in his right rotator cuff.
He did not play Monday, then started Tuesday but played just four innings before being lifted.
The six-time All-Star had an MRI on Wednesday and received a cortisone shot in the muscle. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Berkman can pinch-hit Friday and is close to returning to the lineup.
“We think he has a chance to be in there tomorrow,” La Russa said.
Berkman stepped into the on-deck circle in the ninth inning Thursday against the Houston Astros, but he was there as a decoy.
In other news, the Cardinals placed infielder Nick Punto on the 15-day disabled list for the third time this season. Punto strained his left oblique muscle in Thursday’s 5-3 loss to the Astros.
“He’s a tough guy to have out,” La Russa said. “He does a lot of things for us.”
Punto, who previously had been sidelined by abdominal surgery and a sore right throwing arm, was batting .271 with no homers and 13 RBIs in 47 games.
“I’m definitely frustrated,” Punto said. “It’s been a trying season for me so far.”
To replace him, St. Louis recalled infielder Tyler Greene.
Greene hit .198 in 49 games for the Cardinals earlier this year. With Triple-A Memphis, Greene hit .328 in 33 games.
“It was tough,” Greene said about his earlier stint with the parent club. “I kind of lost some of that timing and rhythm in my swing. Live and learn.”
This time, Greene said he hopes it will be different.
“It’s just getting that rhythm and timing back, seeing pitching everyday,” said Greene, who was optioned June 18 after hitting one homer with nine RBIs in 117 at-bats in St. Louis. “I feel good about where I’m at and what I’ve been doing down there. I’m looking forward to carrying it over up here.
“I believe I can be successful here. It’s been frustrating at times but I’m learning more and more as the years go on. I’m really looking forward this time to carrying over what I was doing down there and stay where I was at, in that mental state.”
In other injury news, backup catchers Tony Cruz and Gerald Laird both were hurt Thursday but neither will be put on the disabled list.
Cruz bruised his right hand. Laird strained the ring finger on his catching hand.
“I jammed my ring finger,” Laird said. “I can go.”
La Russa agreed.
“In an emergency, he could play,” La Russa said.
Copyright Associated Press