Berkman gets into spring swing in debut

Berkman gets into spring swing in debut

LAKELAND, Fla. -- After missing the first game of the spring with a bruised left knee, Lance Berkman got his first at-bats of the Grapefruit League season in Friday's game against Detroit and went 1-for-2 with a double and a strikeout.

Berkman doubled to left-center field in his first at-bat against Tigers starter Eddie Bonine in the first inning and struck out looking in the fourth against reliever Phil Coke. He's scheduled to start at first base Saturday against Atlanta.

"You can only do so much in the cage," Berkman said. "You need to go out there and get your feet wet, and it was a good start. I felt OK running. [The knee] isn't perfect, but it's definitely playable. I think we'll be able to manage."

Berkman had an injection in his knee Friday. It was originally believed to be shark cartilage, but the Astros said Friday the injection consisted of chicken comb. Berkman said the knee isn't 100 percent, but he's willing to play, since it can't get any worse.

"It doesn't necessarily feel a whole lot better, but when the doctor told me I couldn't hurt it any worse, then why not go back out there?" Berkman said. "I need to get ready for the season. That's my thinking, and as long as I can be out there, I want to be out there."

Chicken shots became approved for use in the United States in 1997 to alleviate joint pain. Fluid is extracted from the combs on the back of chicken's heads and injected into the knee.

Berkman had minor surgery on his left knee in 1999 and underwent surgery following the 2004 season on his right knee to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He said his left knee gave him some discomfort at different points in the winter.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.