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Berkman out with sore knee

Associated Press / March 13, 2010

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Houston first baseman Lance Berkman will have minor surgery on his left knee today and miss 2-4 weeks, a recovery period that could sideline him for Opening Day.

The 34-year-old injured the knee during a base-running drill March 1. Tests showed that Berkman bruised his knee, and he played five games after skipping the Astros’ spring training opener.

Berkman’s knee continued to swell, and team doctor David Lintner decided yesterday that the five-time All-Star slugger should have arthroscopic surgery.

Astros general manager Ed Wade said the team is confident the injury won’t be a lingering problem.

“We certainly don’t encourage players to have surgery, but if this is an easy fix, it removes the uncertainty that it could occur again,’’ Wade said.

“We think that once it gets addressed, that it’s a dead issue.’’

Berkman had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee in 1999. He missed 18 games last year with a strained left calf and hit .274, a career low for a full season. He is entering the final season of an $85 million, six-year contract extension.

Shields, for openers
Tampa Bay righthander James Shields joked he’s already told his wife that nothing is going to change his plans to be the Rays’ Opening Day starting pitcher. Not even the expected birth of the couple’s second daughter next month.

The Rays open the season at home against Baltimore April 6 — four days before the baby’s due date.

“We’re going to play it by ear and kind of go with the flow, but I’m planning on making my start,’’ Shields said yesterday after manager Joe Maddon slated him for the assignment for a franchise-record third straight season.

Shields, 28, went 11-12 with a 4.14 ERA in 2009, pitching much better than his record suggests. Shields made seven starts in which he allowed one or no earned runs, yet only won two of them. In one of the losses he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, and wound up allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits.

Jurrjens makes debut
Braves righthander Jair Jurrjens threw two scoreless innings against the Pirates in his spring debut before the game was called after three because of rain. Jurrjens had been struggling with inflammation around his right shoulder and manager Bobby Cox decided to be cautious. Jurrjens, who turned 24 in January, went 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA for the Braves last season . . . Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera injured his left leg diving back into third base on a pickoff attempt in a game against the Angels. The team said it would know more about Cabrera’s status today . . . White Sox outfield prospect Jared Mitchell sprained his right ankle making a spectacular, against-the-wall catch during a split-squad win over the Angels. Mitchell was carted off the field and taken to the hospital for X-rays.

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