What Season-Ending Knee Surgery Means for Lance Berkman's MLB Future

Tim KeeneyContributor ISeptember 10, 2012

Hopefully you got a good chance to watch Lance Berkman over the past week, because it could have been your last. 

According to Fox Sports' B.J. Rains, the 13-year veteran will have season-ending surgery on Tuesday:

Matheny says Lance Berkman will have season-ending knee surgery tomorrow. #stlcards

— B.J. Rains (@BJRains) September 10, 2012


More like career-ending. 

Berkman hasn't officially retired, but he's made it very clear over the past injury-riddled year that retirement is a distinct possibility.

Just last week, in fact, the 36-year-old told Fox 26 Sports that he had already figured out his post-MLB future (via MyFoxHouston.com):

Berkman, who will become a free agent after this season, has already reached out to the academic advisor for athletics at Rice to help him get ready for his return to college for the first since time 1997 should he choose to go that route.

Berkman is considering retiring because of a chronically sore right knee.

"If I do decide to retire my next move is going to be to enroll at Rice and to be a student assistant for the baseball team," Berkman said.

And that was before he knew he would have to undergo knee surgery—surgery that takes a very long time to come back from.

Of course, it's not like Berkman has anything left to play for in the major leagues. 

The former Rice superstar is a career .296 hitter. He has 1,843 hits, 360 homers, 1,200 RBI and almost as many walks as strikeouts to his name. He has been the perfect blend of power, patience and raw hitting ability. 

He's finished in the top five of MVP voting four times. He's been an All-Star six times. He's won the NL pennant twice, the World Series once, and he won the 2011 Comeback Player of the Year award.

I guess that's a decent resume.

But over the past year, Berkman hasn't been able to stay healthy, which has been especially disappointing after his return to grace for the Cardinals last season.

Berkman played in at least 114 games every year since 2000, but calf and knee problems this year forced him to a measly 31 games, and he didn't look like himself in any of them.

The bubble Hall of Fame candidate has the accomplishments. He has the World Series ring. He has the support and future plans. And now, unfortunately, he has the injury and surgery to set his retirement in motion.

If Berkman suits up for another MLB game, I would be very surprised, though far from disappointed.