Lance Berkman feels good, ready for AL

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Lance Berkman said he expects to get most of his at-bats as the designated hitter but added that he feels good enough right now to play first base, if needed.

He said his right knee, which underwent surgeries in May and September of last year and limited him to 32 games with the St. Louis Cardinals, feels good.

"Obviously, whenever you come off a year where you have two knee surgeries there's always work to do in terms of maintenance and getting to a strength level that will get me to perform at my best," Berkman said. "I like where I am in terms of the structural condition of the knee."

Berkman said last year, he knew he had a torn meniscus and tried to play through it.

"That's not the case this year," Berkman said. "There’s nothing structurally wrong, it's just a matter of recovering from the surgery and getting stronger. The surgeries last year fixed the problem."

Berkman, who turns 37 on Feb. 10, is confident he can get closer to his 2011 numbers. That season, Berkman hit .301 with 31 homers and 94 RBIs in 145 games. He also hit a big two-run single in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the World Series that tied a score the St. Louis Cardinals eventually won over the Rangers. They claimed the title the next night in Game 7.

Berkman doesn't think his age will keep him from having success.

"I think that No. 1, my statistics have never been artificially inflated," Berkman said. "You’re talking about a natural-type aging process. I think with advances in nutrition and weight training, you can stay healthy and strong and at a peak performance longer. I feel like my bat speed is still there, a big part of my game is plate discipline. You don’t lose the ability to judge the strike zone overnight."

The key for Berkman is staying healthy.