- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

OAKLAND, CALIF. (AP) - The Oakland Athletics, searching this winter for a big bat for the middle of their order, are set to meet with free agent Lance Berkman on Tuesday.

The A’s certainly could use the 34-year-old switch-hitter, who batted .248 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs this season between Houston and the New York Yankees.

In late October, New York declined to exercise a $15 million contract option for Berkman, most recently a first baseman-designated hitter who also has played extensively in the outfield during 12 major league seasons. Berkman received a $2 million buyout.

One of A’s general manager Billy Beane’s priorities this offseason is to find a reliable hitter who can help the club score more runs for its talented pitching staff.

The A’s stayed in the AL West chase until late in the season _ losing out to the AL champion Texas Rangers _ and finished 81-81 for second place in the division. That was despite using the disabled list 23 times, two shy of the franchise record set in 2008.

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