Remember back in February when there wasn't anything out there in the world to suggest the Astros would be without Lance Berkman to start the season? Those were the good ol' days. Now we live in a world where we actually have no clear idea of when the Astros will be able to have Lance Berkman in their lineup again. It is distressing, and it is also something that isn't getting a whole lot of media coverage (the perks of being a mid-market team that had no expectations?).
Tons of information or not, there's no reason I can't bring it up. And bring it up I will.
The less I hear about Lance Berkman, and the more times his return date is pushed back, the more frightened I become. According to the word on the street, the Puma is targeting April 20th as his return date. That's less than a week away. It seems improbable that Lance Berkman will return on April 20th. When you probe further, though, it seems laughable.
Why? Let's first start with Brad Mills quote on what the Astros are looking for in a Lance Berkman return:
"There is no timetable set forth at all...When he does finally come back, we want him to be 100 percent to where he's able to play and he's ready to play every day -- instead of maybe play for a week and then he's so sore he's got to sit out four or five days or another week, or go on the DL another 15. We don't want that to happen. When he comes back, we want him to be ready."
This quote pairs nicely with the following tweet from Alyson Footer advising us of the outcome Berkman's most recent workout:
Now, I am not a medical doctor, or a licensed physical therapist. I do have some layman's knowledge of sports injuries due to my own extensive history, but that is irrelevant. What is relevant is that it is utterly inconceivable that a week out from a return date, Berkman can suddenly go from 75% windsprints to playing professional baseball.
If we take a step beyond common sense and check in with a knowledgeable injury analyst, Will Carroll, we discover that things are bleak. I don't want to put all the grim details out here, but there is an in-depth analogy to Jeff Bagwell... Anyway, Carroll, who thinks that Berkman is looking at the first of May before he returns to action, says his condition is bad. The dirty deets are as follows:
As Berkman's knees continue to be problematic, swelling with even minimal activity, and even after using cortisone in the knee concurrently with the last draining, the team is pushing back his expected return again....[t]hat means it probably all comes down to pain tolerance...
As someone who has had several cortisone injections in my lifetime, I am frightened by Berkman's knee's ability to swell up after the injection. What frightens me even more is that Berkman's condition, in Carroll's estimation, does not seem to be something that is ever going to be resolved. Instead, it will be about managing his pain. That reads like a death knell for an already aging player.
What do we make of Lance Berkman's rehab? I don't find it hard to imagine that Lance Berkman will not be rejoining the Astros by May 1st. It is also easy to imagine it could be mid-June to the All Star Break. With the requirements the Astros have for Berkman to return—which are very good requirements—it just doesn't seem like Berkman can make it back in a time frame that would not necessitate a rehab stint in the minors (something that adds at least a week to whenever he suits up for the Astros). Even if I try to make myself feel warm and fuzzy about the situation, I think it will be at least the second week of May. But, again, I have no substantial foundation to lay this on.
I have two questions for you. One to be answered in the form of a poll and the other to just be discussed, generally. The non-poll question is this: What does the lack of meaningful updates on Berkman's rehab mean? Why has this not reached the level where we hyper-analyze any and every development (especially in the midst of a seven-game losing streak spurned on by offensive ineptitude)?
*Disclaimer* My editor (read: snarky girlfriend with an English degree) has informed me that wherefore art thou is actually synonymous with for what purpose are you. Not exactly what I formerly believed it to be, but I still think it fits. What purpose are you to this team Lance...right?