Berkman's Knee: How Bad Is This For the Astros?

When I first saw all the information break on Lance Berkman's knee injury, I didn't think it was that big of a deal. After all, players get bruises all the time. He's hasn't seen live action yet, doesn't need a ton of spring at-bats to get ready for the season and it would probably work itself out in no time.

Then, I started paying attention to what I was reading. From Alyson Footer's tweets:

Lance Berkman has a left knee contusion. He had an MRI yesterday. He'll receive treatment and will be evaluated day to day. MRI will be sent to Dr. Lintner in Houston for further evaluation.

Uh-oh.

Why did the Astros need to send his results on for more evaluation. A bruise is a bruise, right? Then, I read Berkman's quotes in Brian McTaggart's latest blog post.

"Obviously, it's concerning," Berkman said. "Heck, the first day we run the bases in spikes and your knee swells up that's never a good thing to have happen to you, but the doctors are hopeful it's minor. Whatever it is, it's minor. Even the worst-case scenario is minor so we'll see how it goes."

The next part makes me feel uncomfortable.

"Anybody that's ever played any length of time and gets over 30 you're going to have some aches and pains, and every once in a while working out my knee doesn't feel great but it never swelled," Berkman said. "Everybody's going to be like, 'Why didn't you get it taken care of in the offseason?' But it was never a problem at all.

"It was never debilitating in any of the stuff I was doing this offseason. I felt a twinge once in  a while but my joints hurt from time to time all over the place. It's something that's not out of the ordinary but it was never swollen. This is the first time it has swollen up like that and that's an indication it's a little more than a standard ache or pain."

Um, so the same knee that he tore up playing touch football has been bothering him off and on all offseason. Now that it's swollen, he's trying to take care of it? Don't forget, the reason Puma dropped weight this winter is on the recomendation that it would help his knee feel better.

Then, Will Carroll tweeted what he tweeted and my heart dropped a bit. Arthritis? Are we going through this again with another Astros player, so soon after it robbed Jeff Bagwell of the end to his career?

I'm still torn as to what this means. I'm not going to totally jump on the doom-and-gloom bandwagon, simply because Brad Mills is apparently considering playing Berkman on Thursday. Footer is against the move, but doesn't seem to think it will happen. She also talked with Mills about something like this happening in drills instead of a game. Here are his comments:

"There's a chance of injury anytime. You can't be tentative about everything you do. You have to play the game. If something sprouts up, we'll have to back them off. But you have to play the game the way it's supposed to be played. And Lance will."

I agree with that. The training staff is right to hold Berkman back, but you can't stay away from drills just because someone will get hurt. It's unfortunate that this happened but I'd really like to know if this happened in the past two days or if it was because of something that has bothered him all winter.According to Bernardo Fallas, Berkman hurt it in drills Sunday:

Berkman, 34, said he hurt the knee during a base-running drill Sunday. He experienced swelling soon after, he said.

“I guess I twisted it wrong or did something when we were running the bases,” Berkman said.

What do you think? Is this a big deal? Should we be legitimately worried or just wait and see?

UPDATE: Talked a little with Carroll via email and he clarified what an arthritic condition might mean. It is degenerative like Bagwell's shoulder, but there's not telling what the timeline for it getting worse would be. He agreed with Danyah's comments and thought the worse case scenario is like Carlos Beltran. Knee scoped, miss 6-8 weeks. So, breathe a little easier, I guess.

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