Lance Berkman is not even on the Cardinals active roster for the club's National League Division Series match-up with the Washington Nationals.
The switch-hitter has barely been able to contribute at all in 2012. Even though Berkman has not, and will not, be able to do much on the field, the Cardinals still look for his leadership in the clubhouse.
On Saturday, just one day before the Cardinals will send Adam Wainwright to the hill against the might Nationals, Berkman spoke to his teammates. His teammates got the message.
"I just feel like, a lot of times, these games are about attitude, about the way you carry yourself," Berkman said. "And I thought it was just important for us to remember that we ARE the defending World Series champions. We're the team to beat. All these other teams, they're trying to knock us off. But we're the champs. So take that mentality on the field with us."
Berkman's words should be a stinging reminder of the circumstances the Cardinals overcame in 2011. The Cardinals have the edge in experience. Berkman was simply trying to remind them they have a competitive edge as well.
"I'm not saying we're going to win the World Series, because anything can happen," Berkman said. "But I do know that this team is going to go out and compete well. And I think that's the hallmark of a champion. That's what good teams do."
With guys on the field like Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Yadier Molina, it is a virtual guarantee that the Cardinals will compete until the end. They will battle. They will fight.
Which is exactly why the NLDS with the Washington Nationals should be so entertaining.