Looking for an immediate impact on September 1? The Yankees best bet is Lance Berkman.
It’s amazing the change Berkman experienced when he arrived in New York. In Houston, he was the last reminder of those really good teams of just a few years ago. He was the guy who played with Bagwell and Biggio. The guy who hit .385 in the World Series. The guy who drove in 100 runs six times, finished top five in MVP voting four times and became an icon of the franchise.
With the Yankees, he’s on the phantom disabled list so that Eduardo Nunez has a roster spot.
Berkman has been healthy for a while. His ankle remains heavily taped, but he could have played this week in Toronto. What’s amazing is how easily he talks about the situation. There is no bitterness, no frustration. Berkman came to New York to play his part, and for a while that meant a platoon job at designated hitter. Last week, it meant going on the 15-day disabled list for an injury that was going to take three or four days to heal.
Think that would ever have happened in Houston?
No chance, but Berkman goes about his business with no sign of frustration. He takes batting practice, chats with the guys in the clubhouse and talks about wanting to contribute in the final month so that he can feel a part of what’s happening with this team.
His Yankees experience is all of 12 games. Through the first six, he hit .091/.167/.091. Through the last six, he hit .294/.400/.529. Without him, the Yankees have not had a regular designated hitter against right-handed starters. He could make a difference, and he could make a difference pretty soon.