Astros first baseman Lance Berkman told the Houston Chronicle that if he were running the team and it was out of contention by the All-Star break, he would try to trade the veterans, including himself.
"As a player, if they came to me and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got a deal to go to a contender,’ I’d take it," Berkman told the newspaper. "Heck, it’s only a three- or four-month deal. It’s not like I’m signing on for 10 years with another team."
Berkman added that he ideally would retire as an Astro but would accept a trade. "I would say yeah," Berkman told the Houston Chronicle. "I think it would benefit the organization, and in the end, it would be a benefit for whoever it is — whether it’s me, or Roy (Oswalt) or Carlos (Lee). I’m not saying we’re at the point where they should start pulling the plug on us, but they need to start thinking forward. If this thing keeps going like this, they’ve gotta do something."
Astros general manager Ed Wade told FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal that Berkman called him afterward to explain what he meant.
"I told him, ‘Don’t worry about it, players have every right to make whatever comments they want to the media. Focus on showing up and winning tomorrow,’" Wade told Rosenthal.
"We need Lance to not be hitting .220 or whatever. The same with (Carlos) Lee and (Hunter) Pence. Take advantage of the pitching we’ve had and get back into this thing.
"His quotes are timely because they just came out, but they aren’t timely as far as I’m concerned. We’re trying to be the best club we can be."
On Thursday, Berkman tried to further clarify his stance.
"I’m not demanding to be traded," he told repoters. "I’m perfectly content to be a Houston Astro. We were just talking hypothetical."
The Astros are an NL-worst 9-18 and in last place in the NL Central. They have endured two eight-game losing streaks already this season.
Berkman, 34, is in the final year of his contract, though the Astros have a $15 million option on him for the 2011 season. He was a first-round draft pick by Houston in 1997 and has spent his entire 12-season major league career with the Astros.
The switch hitter is batting .213 with two homers and seven RBIs in 14 games this season. He didn’t debut until April 20 because he was rehabbing knee surgery.