The St. Louis Cardinals haven't quite hit their stride as a team through the first 19 games of the 2011 season, but Lance Berkman sure has hit the ground running. Signed this offseason by the Cardinals, Berkman is healthy and raking so far this April. He is second on the club in batting average (.339), first in OPS (1.104), first in RBIs (15), and first in HRs (6). With Albert Pujols struggling out of the gate, the Cardinals have needed Berkman's productivity. Finally healthy again after battling nagging injuries last season, the longtime Houston Astros star looks like he'll help the Cardinals have one of the more potent middle parts of the lineup in the National League once Pujols invariably finds his groove at the plate.â†µ
On Thursday, Berkman joined KFNS in St. Louis to talk about his torrid start to the season, the challenges of playing in the outfield again, his health being the primary reason for his early-season productivity, and the importance of pacing himself so he can contribute to the Cards in the later part of the season.â†µ
Why he is playing so well this year:â†µ
"I think a lot of it has to do with being healthy. Last year was a tough year for me on a couple of levels and a big part of that was not having spring training and having to deal with that knee all year. This year feels a lot different. I feel like I’m more my normal self in terms of the physical part of it. Let’s hope that continues."â†µ
Whether or not it is necessary for him to get days off and get saved for the stretch run:â†µ
"I think it is necessary. I think the more you can save yourself from the little aches, pains, and things like that. I’ve had two knee surgeries on each knee now and so it’s something I’m conscious of and I have to manage. It becomes a management game the older that you get. Fortunately we have one of the best managers in the game in terms of that kind of thing. He believes in using his whole roster and he’s not afraid to give guys days off and just kinda plan that out. Tony has been great so far in that regard and I think it’s going to help in the long run."â†µ
The Cardinals begin a three-game set with the Cincinnati Reds tonight in St. Louis. Both clubs are tied for first with identical 10-9 records.