Berkman out 2-4 weeks with knee injury

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Houston All-Star first baseman Lance Berkman will have minor surgery on his left knee Saturday and miss two-to-four weeks, a recovery period that could sideline him for opening day.

The 34-year-old injured knee during a baserunning drill at spring training on March 1. Tests showed that Berkman bruised his knee, and he played five games after skipping the Astros' spring training opener.

Berkman's knee continued to swell, and team doctor Dr. David Lintner decided on Friday that the five-time All-Star slugger should have arthroscopic surgery.

Astros general manager Ed Wade said the team is confident the injury won't be a lingering problem.

"We certainly don't encourage players to have surgery, but if this is an easy fix, it removes the uncertainty that it could occur again," Wade said. "We think that once it gets addressed, that it's a dead issue and we won't have to worry about it anymore."

Wade said the initial bruise ruled out the option of surgery earlier.

"He had a strawberry on that knee, and Dr. Lintner told us that even if surgery had been prescribed, they wouldn't have been able to do it until that strawberry healed because of the concern for an infection," Wade said. "So we'll address it now, get him moving in a straight line and, hopefully, not have to worry about it for the rest of the season."

Berkman had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee in 1999. He missed 18 games last year with a strained left calf and hit .274, a career low for a full season. He is entering the final season of an $85 million, six-year contract extension.