Berkman back in No. 3 hole

Astros first baseman Lance Berkman was shuffling across the clubhouse Sunday morning when told by reporters he was hitting third in the lineup for the first time since May 30.

“It doesn’t matter to me one way or the other,” Berkman said.

The Astros were 16-28 with Berkman in the No. 3 hole heading into Sunday’s game against Detroit and 15-8 when he had hit fifth, which he has done most of June. But with Miguel Tejada out of the lineup for a day off, Berkman was back in his familiar No. 3 spot.

“This is just today,” manager Cecil Cooper said. “Tomorrow he could be hitting eighth.”

When pressed by reporters, Cooper finally gave his thoughts on Berkman.

“He’s a three-hole hitter,” he said. “That’s who he is. He’s the best hitter we have. He’s struggled all year for the most part, but he’s the best hitter we’ve got. That’s where you put your best guy. I’d love to see him get back there because that’s where he belongs.”

Berkman wasn’t so sure.

“I think we have three or four guys who could hit there, and it’s a matter of what works the best,” he said.

Berkman entered Sunday hitting .296 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs since April, when he hit .162 with five homers and 10 RBIs. He was hitting .236 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs in the No. 3 spot and .286 with five homers and 13 RBIs in the No. 5 spot.

“With the exception of the first month, I’ve felt pretty good at the plate,” Berkman said. 


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