The St. Louis Cardinals saw Lance Berkman return from injury Saturday, but their corner-slugger logjam meant their best hitter from 2011 found himself coming of the bench in his first game back from an injury that some thought would lead to the end of his career. Berkman replaced Kyle Lohse as a pinch-hitter in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, striking out in the seventh inning with runners on second and third and nobody out.
It turned out to be the beginning of the end for the Cardinals, who managed to get only one run out of that situation and couldn't pull things together in extra innings. Berkman, coming off the best season of his career by OPS+, has to play, but with Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, and Allen Craig all in the middle of huge season he's likely to be little more than a platoon bat and a pinch hitter for a while--in short, the role the Cardinals originally envisioned for Allen Craig.
Berkman hadn't appeared for the Cardinals since May 19, when he went 0-1 before leaving the game in the third inning of a 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.