Berkman looking to shed slump

Berkman looking to shed slump

CINCINNATI -- Lance Berkman entered Monday's game against the Reds toting an anemic batting average and a high strikeout percentage. No better place than Great American Ball Park for Berkman to end an early-season slump.

Over his 11 seasons in the big leagues, he's dominated the Reds. In the ballpark's six-season history, he's smacked 19 home runs -- the most of any Cincinnati opponent (Boston's Jason Bay is the next-highest at 14) -- and overall against the Reds, he's hit 45 home runs with 126 RBIs, the most of any active player.

Berkman hopes a three-game series here will cure some of his ills. Before Monday's game, he was batting .167, and although he's hit four home runs, he's struck out a team-high 21 times, seven more than anyone else on the roster.

"Sometimes it takes veterans a little time to get going," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "Lance swung it really good in spring, and then he had a little lull. Maybe it's time for him to crank it up. We need it about this time."

Asked if playing at Great American could help Berkman's productivity -- at least mentally -- Cooper crossed his fingers and his arms.

"You see that?" Cooper said. "I have them all crossed, buddy. We need to get him there. Let's get something going."

Josh Katzowitz is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.