When the Cardinals signed Lance Berkman last season, a lot of people figured the injury-prone slugger would wind up on the disabled list for a chunk of the season and may be hindered by injuries even if he was on the field.
Instead, he had a complete resurgence, playing in 145 games and hitting .301.412.547 with 31 homers and 94 RBI.
The 36-year-old's luck may have run out, though. Berkman suffered a knee injury this weekend and initial reports indicate he may have a torn ACL, the second such occurrence for the outfielderfirst baseman.
The rehab and recovery would take roughly nine months and maybe even longer given Berkman's advanced age. As a result, he is pondering retirement.
The injury is a big blow to the Cardinals' lineup. They've already seen injuries slow slugger Allen Craig on multiple occurrences and are famously without Albert Pujols, who left for Los Angeles last winter.
Berkman was hitting .333.429.571 in 13 games this season. Carlos Beltran had helped absorb the loss of Pujols and Berkman's previous DL stint in April and early May with a hot start in which the veteran outfielder boasts a 1.018 OPS with an NL-leading 13 homers. But Beltran has been sidelined by knee injuries in the past and has played more than 81 games just once in the past three seasons.
With Berkman out, staff ace Chris Carpenter missing time and Adam Wainwright off to a slow start (5.77 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), if Beltran goes down to injury ever, the Cardinals will be in a world of hurt. They currently sit in first place in the NL Central, but just a half-game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds.
St. Louis has dropped eight of their last 10, and that was before the Berkman news. If things keep up like this, the reigning World Series Champions may miss the playoffs altogether in 2012.