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Notes: Berkman drops appeal

Notes: Berkman drops appeal

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HOUSTON -- Lance Berkman dropped his appeal and will serve his two-game suspension Tuesday and Wednesday while the Houston Astros play the Oakland Athletics.

Mark Loretta started at first base on Tuesday in Berkman's place, and center fielder Hunter Pence took over Berkman's spot in the lineup as the No. 3 hitter.

Berkman, who was suspended for inappropriate actions during the Astros' June 5 game in Colorado, would have preferred to have served the punishment last weekend in Chicago. But because Pence and Luke Scott came down with injuries that kept them out of the lineup for a couple of days, Berkman didn't want the team to be even more shorthanded.

"We checked with the Commissioner's Office and it seemed that they were fairly adamant that the appeal was going to do no good," Berkman said. "In my mind, there's no sense in dragging it out or having something hanging over my head. It's unfortunate. We'll just get it out of the way."

Major League Baseball vice president of on-field operations Bob Watson never specified which of Berkman's actions led to the suspension. Berkman was ejected from the game for arguing a check-swing strikeout with third-base umpire Ed Rapuano and then threw a trainer's bag onto the field. Later, when the Astros and Rockies had a bench-clearing incident, Berkman ran back out onto the field -- the most serious violation of the three.

"There is an automatic suspension for coming back on the field, which I wasn't aware of at the time," Berkman said. "I wasn't thinking about that at the time, and even if I had known it, I probably would have still run out there.

"It's one of those situations where the perfect storm of events led to the suspension. I'm just looking forward to putting it behind me."

Berkman took batting practice Tuesday but was not permitted to be in any "team areas" during the game, meaning he had to leave the clubhouse.

Berkman chuckled at the suggestion that he should spend some time in the television booth with Astros announcer Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies.

"I want to keep a lower profile," he said. "This is supposed to be a disciplinary deal. You're not supposed to be on TV having a ball with the TV guys."

Astros sign Park: The Astros signed Chan Ho Park to a Minor League deal on Tuesday, one week after the right-hander was released by the Mets.

Park, 33, will join the Triple-A Round Rock club, where he'll be reunited with pitching coach Burt Hooton, who has known Park since he coached him as a prospect emerging through the Dodgers' system.

Park credits Hooton and Astros pitching coach Dave Wallace with his success, which is why general manager Tim Purpura figured it couldn't hurt to take a look. Wallace was the Dodgers' pitching coach from 1995-97.

"I don't expect it to be something that he'll spend a half season down here before we make a decision," Purpura said. "He wants to get back to the big leagues, and so we're going to give him two, three, four starts and try to evaluate where we see him. If there's a fit, we'll look to see what's happening at the Major League level. If not, we'll probably let him go."

Park established himself as one of the league's top pitchers during his Dodgers tenure from 1994-2001, but his career took a downward turn after he signed with the Rangers in 2002. He won only 22 games during his 3 1/2 years with the Rangers, and last year he was 7-7 with a 4.81 ERA over 24 games (21 starts) for the Padres.

He made one start for the Mets earlier this season, allowing seven runs over four innings. He also started nine games for the Mets' Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans, posting a 4-4 record with a 5.57 ERA prior to his release.

White improving: Rick White received three injections last Friday in an effort to alleviate a herniated disc and pinched nerves on both sides of his neck.

"It's probably been there for a little bit, over the course of time," White said. "It just caught up with me. I don't remember anything specifically that happened that caused it."

White said Tuesday that he feels great, and sees no reason why he shouldn't be ready to pitch when he's eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Saturday. He's slated to throw off the mound on Wednesday.

"I don't have any tingling sensation, and everything feels normal," he said.

Odds and ends: Five members of the Corpus Christi Hooks have been selected to the Texas League All-Star team: first baseman Todd Self, designated hitter Noochie Varner, reserve outfielder Beau Torbert and pitchers Chance Douglass and Troy Patton. The Hooks will host the game, which takes place at Whataburger Field on June 26. ... Purpura said the Astros are close to signing several picks from last week's Draft. "We're pretty close on a number of them," Purpura said. "Pending some physicals, we should have a fair number in the next day or so. It's going well."

Up next: The Astros will host the A's in Game 2 of their Interleague series at 7:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Chris Sampson (6-5, 3.36 ERA) will go against A's righty Joe Blanton (5-4, 3.60).

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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