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Astros slugger Berkman would be open to trade

HOUSTON (AP) — Lance Berkman would be open to waiving his no-trade clause if the Houston Astros asked him.

The All-Star first baseman, who first made the comments to the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday, reiterated those sentiments Thursday before a game against Arizona.

"I'm not going to back away from what I said because I still feel that way," he said. "If we're 20-70 and they say, 'Hey, we've got a trade for a bunch of hot prospects and you're going to go compete for a world championship,' I would definitely consider it."

The 34-year-old Berkman was born in Waco and attended Rice University in Houston before becoming a first-round draft pick by the Astros in 1997. He made his major league debut in 1999 and is a five-time All-Star.

He said leaving would be difficult.

"I love it here," he said. "This is my home. I'm a Texan. It would be tough to have to go somewhere else, but by the same token if it was the right set of circumstances — which let me reiterate that we're nowhere close to right now — if it came to that and they came to me and said, 'Hey, would you be open to this or that?' I'd be open."

Berkman called Houston general manager Ed Wade to let him know about his comments after Wednesday night's game and before the story came out.

"Every player has the right to express their opinions," Wade said. "I appreciate Lance calling to let me know what he said. It's a non-issue as far as I'm concerned."

The Astros entered Thursday with the NL's worst record at 9-18. They had already endured a pair of eight-game losing streaks.

Still, Berkman said he would prefer to remain with the team and hopes it gets back on track.

"In a perfect world, absolutely, that's what I'd want," he said. "I want to win here. I want to go to the playoffs again here. But if the organization thinks otherwise, as a loyal employee I'll listen to whatever they have to say."

Berkman is in the final season of an $85 million, six-year contract with a $15 million option for 2011. The switch-hitter was batting .213 with two homers and seven RBIs going into Thursday night.

Wade refused to discuss the possibility of dealing Berkman under the scenario the player presented.

"I don't project worst-case scenarios, I concentrate on what we're trying to do at 7:05 p.m. tonight and what we're trying to do that next day and the next day," he said. "When we get to a point where we're interested in changing the structure of our ballclub, then that's the time we'll deal with it."

Berkman batted .274 with 25 home runs and 80 RBIs in 136 games last year. He has surpassed 100 RBIs six times and hit at least 30 homers five times.