Lance Berkman Could Return To Cardinals This Season

July 24, 2012; St. Louis, MO. USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman (12) lays on the ground after being hit by a pitch in the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch Stadium. Berkman was removed from the game. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman is not ruling out a late-season return to the club even though he is just a week removed from what was thought to be season-ending knee surgery, reports BJ Rains of Fox Sports Midwest:

"I'm not ruling out a return by the end of the regular season the way it feels, but I'm not ruling it in either," Berkman said.

"I'm hopeful that if I can get this swelling calmed down from the surgery, if I can get a little strength back in there and if I can get back in the batting cage and see how it feels, and all of these are big ifs, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility."

The 36-year-old Berkman underwent surgery on his right knee on September 11 to repair a torn meniscus, the same procedure the Big Puma had conducted in May that sidelined him until mid-July. Despite pre-surgery reports to the contrary, the first baseman stated he felt good enough walking around on the knee Wednesday that a return is possible.

Berkman's initial tear of his knee tissue occurred when stretching for a throw at first base on May 19. Following surgery and a rehab stint, Berkman was hit on the same knee by a pitch from Clayton Kershaw on July 14, just ten days after his activation from the disabled list. The veteran slugger attempted to play through the pain for a few weeks, but was back on the DL by the first week in August. After failed rehab stint, Berkman elected to go under the knife again.

Berkman is hitting .263/.385/.450 with two home runs in just thirty-one games on the season.

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