By Tim Polzer
November 17, 2012

Surgeries to his right knee limited Lance Berkman to 97 at-bats in 2012. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Former Astro Lance Berkman is open to returning to the team after meeting with owner Jim Crane last week, according to FOX 26 Sports.

Berkman stopped by Crane's office while in Houston working as a volunteer assistant for the Rice University baseball team. The pair left the idea on hold until Berkman's knee is evaluated and he gets a feel for his value on the free-agent market.

Two surgeries on Berkman's right knee limited the 37-year-old to 97 at-bats last season with the Cardinals. Berkman has considered retirement, but appears ready to let teams weigh the value of his 2011 season that included 31 homers and a .959 OPS in 587 PAs, and a World Series title for the Cardinals.

"I think he has an interest," Crane said. "All of that will depend on his knee and probably the price, if he gets any other offers or what.

"If all that works out, and there are a lot of ifs there, possibly he could do some DHing (designated hitter) for us."

Berkman, who played for the Astros from 1999-2010, told FOX 26 Sports he is interested in returning to the Astros and admitted that he might be willing to take a hometown discount to play in his native Houston.

"It just depends on what kind of money they are talking about," Berkman said. "Am I going to come back for a couple of million bucks, no.

"If they want to pay me close to what I feel like my value is in terms of what I bring to the table,  I mean if  they're going to ask me to be there and hit third and play every day and DH every day, I want to be compensated like a guy who is a Major League three-hole hitter.

"Obviously, I would be willing to take a little bit less because it's my hometown and for the opportunity to get back to the Astros organization. I'm just waiting for them to make some sort offer and go from there."

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