ST. LOUIS -- Lance Berkman will skip out on a Minor League rehab assignment and instead join the Cardinals for their upcoming road trip through Cincinnati and Milwaukee, which begins Friday. The club's expectation is that Berkman, who is working his way back from right knee surgery, will be activated some time during that six-day road swing.
Though Berkman hasn't played since May 19, he was not keen on the idea of spending a few days in the Minors to ensure that his body could handle the rigors of playing a full game before coming off the 15-day disabled list. He expressed this opinion to the Cardinals on Thursday, after which the determination was made that Berkman would wrap up his rehab work with the big league club.
"The knee is not an issue," Berkman said after participating in the team's workout at Busch Stadium on Thursday. "It wouldn't be to go down there and see if the knee can hold up under the duress of a live-game situation. I'd rather work my way back in at this level, and I feel like there's the personnel for me to be able to do that."
With Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran and Matt Carpenter available to play first base and right field, the Cardinals do have the luxury of easing Berkman back in when he is activated.
St. Louis intends to increase Berkman's on-field workouts on Friday to ensure that his body continues to respond appropriately. The organization will then make day-by-day evaluations of Berkman before deciding on which date he will return.
"He's actually running better than I've seen him in a while," manager Mike Matheny said. "But the timing is going to be tough. No question. To take a break that long and jump back into Major League speed isn't an easy task. We'll alter things a little bit [on Friday] and see how he responds."
Injuries have limited Berkman to only 13 games this season. He is batting .333 (14-for-42) with eight runs and four RBIs.