The Texas Rangers made their first big signing of the off-season and signed Lance Berkman on Jan. 5 to serve as the team's designated hitter in 2013. At 36, Berkman hopes that moving to the American League will help extend his career.
"I'm not ancient, but I'm certainly older for a ballplayer," Berkman said. "It's not unprecedented for guys my age to be extremely productive. I still feel like I can do that, and we'll find out if that's the case or not."
Berkman has a long history in Texas, serving as a member of the Houston Astros' legendary "Killer B's," alongside Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. While in Houston, Berkman was one of the league's most prolific hitters, batting over .300 in four different seasons, with a career-high .331 in 2001.
His career batting average is .296, and he batted .301 two years ago when the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in the World Series.
The only other time he played in the American League was in 2010, after Houston traded him to the New York Yankees. Berkman batted .255 after the trade, with one homer and nine RBIs in 106 at-bats.
The signing of Berkman means that youngsters like Mike Olt won't get DH opportunities if Ian Kinsler moves to first base. Rumors in Texas had Jurickson Profar debuting at second base with Kinsler moved to either first or center. That depends on the maturation of centerfielder Leonys Martin. If Kinsler moved to first, that would move Mitch Moreland to DH, something that might change with the arrival of Berkman.