ST. LOUIS — Injured Lance Berkman didn't sound optimistic Saturday of a return to the St. Louis Cardinals' active list, either for the remainder of the regular season or the postseason.
Berkman, 36, is recovering from Sept. 11 surgery on his right knee. He is hitting every other day, or as the knee allows.
"The problem is, you don't have a 40-man roster when you go to the playoffs," Berkman said. "If you can't run, then you're severely handicapping your team.
"You're basically saying that I would be on the roster to come off the bench and hit a homer if we needed it in some desperate situation. The reality of that, after not having played an entire season, is not great."
Berkman's best chance to be on the roster would be for a potential wild-card playoff game Friday in Atlanta. The Cardinals wouldn't need a full pitching staff for that game.
"Yeah, you could do that," Berkman said. "You could keep some of the starting pitchers off there and go with a guy. But again, you're looking for a miracle. If it comes down to that, we're in trouble."
Berkman said the biggest issue is he's not played.
"The reality is, I've basically missed the entire season," he said. "Even if I were to be able to get back out there physically, you still have the issue of not being game-ready.
"I don't think it would be fair to the team, if I didn't feel like I could really compete well, to be added to the playoff roster and take somebody's spot who could actually help us win."
Berkman said the knee gradually has improved.
"Any time you have surgery, the further away from it you get, the better it feels," he said. "You do some things and sometimes it swells. It pretty much tells you what the limits are. Everything you do, you have to wait until the next day to see how it responds."
Retirement remains an option for Berkman, who isn't seeking one final shining moment on the big stage.
"I'm good," he said. "I don't need to step a big toe on the field ever again to feel perfectly fine. The reason I would even try it is just because I feel obligated to the organization, not because of anything for me, personally."
Freese targets Sunday
Third baseman David Freese hopes to return to the Cardinals' lineup Sunday, the earliest date the team can nail down the second National League wild-card spot.
Freese walked as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning of the Cardinals' 6-4 loss in 10, but was lifted for pinch-runner Adron Chambers.
Freese, nursing a sore right ankle, ran in the Busch Stadium outfield Saturday, taking sharper turns to test the injury.
"I felt pretty good cutting, making turns and everything, so we're close," Freese said. "We'll obviously know if I'm in there (Sunday), but it felt good today. Everything went well."
Freese hit Saturday and said the push-off ankle is operating at maximum output. He deemed himself available to pinch-hit.
"I'm trying to get back as soon as I can, absolutely," said Freese, who has yielded his missed starts to Matt Carpenter. "But like I said (Friday), especially this late in the season with what's going on, it's nice to have a guy like Carpenter around.
"Any team would love to have Matt Carpenter on their team. That's comforting. Also, you sleep better when you're hurt and you're still winning."
Freese injured the ankle Monday during pregame activities in Houston.
Holliday, Schumaker start
Despite being hit in the left elbow by a pitch from the Nationals' Christian Garcia in the sixth inning Friday, forcing his exit from the game, left fielder Matt Holliday made the start Saturday.
"He came in today and was obviously sore, but they did some work on him and got it loose enough to where he's ready to go," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Holliday was 1-for-4.
Also making a start was Skip Schumaker at second base, his first assignment since last Sunday. He also was 1-for-4.
"We need him in there," Matheny said. "We need to have him sharp. He's too valuable of a piece to go this long without getting some at-bats."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.