Berkman returns to lineup, Pudge gets hockey number
Lance Berkman had a swarm of reporters and television cameras waiting by his locker when he arrived at the ballpark Monday, many of whom followed him on the field during batting practice when he stopped to talk with general manager Ed Wade and head athletic trainer Nate Lucero.
Everyone wanted to know if Berkman was going to return to the lineup for the first time since he suffered a mild calf strain Thursday.
“He said he could still feel something in there, but it’s not like a pulled muscle that’s there all the time,” Wade said. “He’s in the lineup and he’ll see. Dr. [Jim] Muntz will be here tonight get a chance to talk to him and take a look at him a little bit, but he felt he was ready to go.”
Berkman doubled into left-center in his first at-bat in the first inning, and he was clearly favoring the leg somewhat. Fortunately for the Astros, Berkman made it into second base easily and didn’t have to test the leg too much.
“When you have a muscle issue for three days you’re not going to be 100 percent better, but I think it’s manageable,” Berkman said before the game.
Berkman felt he needed to get on the field as soon as possible, even if he’s not 100 percent.
“These are important games for us, and it’s just not the Cardinals, but we have a stretch here where we’re facing some tough teams and teams in our division and teams we have to beat if we want to get where w e want to go,” Berkman said. “It’s important for me to be in the lineup.”
Astros catcher Ivan Rodriguez switched his jersey number to No. 77 on Monday. Pudge wore No. 7 throughout his career with the Yankees, but he couldn’t wear that number with the Astros because it was retired last year in honor of Craig Biggio. So, he did the next best thing. He doubled up.
“I was just missing my number and pretty much all my career I have been No. 7,” he said. “I respect that I cannot where No. 7 here because it’s retired, but it’s always a good thing to have two sevens instead of one. “