Astros face roster move ahead of Berkman activation

The Astros will likely activate first baseman Lance Berkman from the 15-day disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game against the Marlins, which means Puma will make his 2010 debut in the season’s 13th game.

Berkman, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee March 13, went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double Sunday in his second of two rehab starts at Triple-A Round Rock, and said after the game he was ready to return to action.

“I’ve already talked to Brad Mills and tried to call [general manager] Ed Wade,” Berkman told via phone Sunday. “[Mills] asked me if I could go Tuesday, and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ He said is this the type of thing where we’re going to have to nurse you along, and I said, ‘No, you can run me out there for about 10 or 15 games and see what happens.’ I anticipate being in the lineup on Tuesday and not coming out of it until the end of the year.”

Berkman’s long-awaited returns means space has to be created on the 25-man roster. Berkman is an infielder, so it’s likely the Astros will have to make a move with an infielder. The likely choice is rookie Chris Johnson, who’s playing time would dwindle to nearly nothing when Berkman returns and plays first base and Pedro Feliz stays at third full time instead of getting some reps at first.

Could the Astros be considering doing something with Kaz Matsui? He has gotten buried on the bench while Jeff Keppinger is off to a .371 start at the plate. Matsui is hitting .095 but is still owed more than $5 million, so it’s unlikely the Astros would release him at this point. But if they’re going to commit to Keppinger, Matsui is not suited to coming off the bench.

The most important thing for the Astros is Berkman’s return to a lineup that sorely needs him.

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