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How do the Cardinals handle Berkman injury?

Posted Thursday, April 19, 2012, at 9:34 AM

Before I dive into today's column, I wanted to remind everyone to dive into this week's contest for one of TWO free copies of A+E Networks Home Entertainment/MLB Productions DVD "St. Louis Cardinals 2011 World Series Champions" highlight film. If you know which past Cardinals pitcher has two World Series home runs under his belt then make sure to answer. Entries will be accepted until Thursday, April 19 at noon. Just click on this link to read more and find out how to enter.

When Lance Berkman ran after a fly ball last night he felt a "bite" in his calf. The same injury that sidelined him for five games has returned and it leaves the Cardinals facing interesting questions.

While he has not been placed on the DL as of the time I'm writing this, I fully expect him to be there by the time you read this. There's only one thing that helps in an injury like this: Rest. Berkman knows that well because he had a nearly identical experience in 2009 that led to several weeks off in order to give it time to really heal. Of course, if Berkman's prognosis is better than to what he and the team have alluded to, and I hope it is, then what you are about to read is meaningless.

We have the offense in our system to allow Berkman the rest he needs to get better.

The question remains, what will they do in the meantime?

There are a couple of options.

Descalso and Carpenter could platoon first base and fill in elsewhere as needed. Carpenter's bat may be able to replace Berkman's in the short-term, but he does have less power. In doing this, they would likely activate Skip Schumaker who is on rehab in Memphis currently. He would be available to fill in at second or in the outfield whenever it's necessary. The only reason I don't think they might go that route is because they like having a bat like Carpenter's off the bench, since there are so many big bats that are going to need time off here and there.

The other option is famed prospect Matt Adams. The initial hope has been to hold off on Adams until next year, but Mozeliak pointed out earlier that in the event of an injury, we could see him sooner in St. Louis.

There are several reasons to give Adams a shot if Berkman does indeed hit the DL (and I firmly believe he needs to before this gets worse).

First, Adams is playing very good baseball in Memphis. I know it's a very small sample, but in 14 games he has gone 21 for 54 leading to an impressive .389 batting average. His biggest downside is that he has 13 strikeouts so far, which makes him fifth on the Memphis Redbirds roster. The Redbirds lead the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts with 126.

With experience, however, his patience will come. So far this season, Adams has three HR, eight RBIs and 21 hits. He leads the Memphis squads in total bases by almost double with a total of 35. His closest competitor in that category is Ryan Jackson with 18.

While I certainly think he could benefit from a little more time at Memphis, I also understand that injuries change things.

There is, however, a big reason to keep him in Memphis for the time being. When Berkman returns, Adams would spend time on the bench. At this phase in his career, he needs to be playing, not sitting. He needs to be honing his skills and prepping for his shot at the big show and he can't do that from the bench.

Another remaining issue, however, is that with Adams not being on the active roster, someone else has to move. Pete Kozma could be a possibility. There is room to shift around the 40-man roster to make the move.

While I think this is a primo opportunity to give Adams his shot, I somehow doubt they'll go that route. There is good rationale to go either direction. My preference, however, is to bring Adams up and see what he can do.

He impressed in 2011 breaking records at AA-Springfield. He impressed at Spring Training. He's impressing everyone at Memphis right now. He's ready to impress the City of St. Louis.

Give him his shot.


To submit a question for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag, either e-mail cnoles@dailystatesman.com , call (573)624-4545 or fill out the form at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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