Alex Rodriguez was struck in the lower left leg by a sharp one-hopper, was scratched from the lineup and is questionable for Sunday night after turning to wave to announcer Joe Buck while fielding grounders in batting practice yesterday.

The drive, which came off the bat of Lance Berkman, hit Rodriguez in the left ankle and insole, he said. A-Rod, who was even with the bag, yelled out in pain and tried to walk it off - "hopping like a rabbit," he said - as he made his way to the protective screen in short centerfield. He collapsed behind the screen, writhing in pain.

Teammates, including Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter, called for trainer Gene Monahan. Two paramedics also jogged out. Rodriguez, with the help of Monahan, walked with a pronounced limp down the dugout steps and back to the clubhouse.

X-rays of the leg were negative and Rodriguez is listed as day-to-day with a lower left leg contusion. Girardi said there is "some concern there" and was not sure if A-Rod will play tonight.

"I didn't see anything. I just got hit," A-Rod said after the game, adding that he didn't remember if he was distracted. "I just said, 'Hello, Joe.' [It was] literally one second to Joe, and it just got smoked."

He was replaced at third base by Ramiro Peña, who had two RBIs on a grounder and a single as the Yankees defeated the Red Sox, 5-2.

During the Fox telecast, in the "interest of full disclosure,'' Buck said A-Rod turned to say hello to him and was hit as he turned back around. He said he is relieved that A-Rod is day-to-day and joked that he looked forward to his own heart rate returning to normal.

When Buck and partner Tim McCarver later noted that the Yankees were relieved that the X-rays were negative, Buck said, "They're not the only ones."

After the game, Buck told Newsday, "You don't want to see that happen to anybody, but I've been around baseball long enough to know that that happens a lot during batting practice, probably more than what people are aware."

He added, "I'm just going on the field to do my job and talk to players and get ready for the game. It was just a convergence of events. I am glad that he's going to be OK and he's day-to-day."

Berkman, meanwhile, said he got quite a scare. The switch hitter was batting righty and "I hit it hard," he said.

"I was just looking at the pitch and swung and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, it's going to hit him,' '' Berkman said. "He didn't get out of the way . . . I was just like, I hope it's not broken."

During the game, a Yankees spokesman said Rodriguez was elevating his leg and applying ice to the bruise. Rodriguez later said he'd never been hit like that before.

"Clearly, this is not good," Berkman recalled thinking. "I remember hitting it and cringing . . . I told him, 'Sorry about that.' "

Berkman, who was acquired shortly before the July 31 non-waivers trading deadline, has had an inauspicious start to his Yankees career.

He is 2-for-22 since joining the team and - given Rodriguez's injury - Berkman said, "I was like, 'Berkman's contributions to the Yankees so far have been, you know, not the greatest.' "

He added, "It wasn't like I was trying to hit him in the teeth and hit low . . . You don't want to hit anyone. Certainly you don't want to hit your four-hole hitter."

Berkman, who said he once was hit above his right eye by Jason Jennings, said that although it "doesn't feel good to see your teammate writhing around," he doesn't believe the injury is serious.

"I'm not a doctor," he said. "But I've been hit before . . . It's a bruise, so after it calms down, it's not a lingering issue."

Jeter agreed, but kept it low-key. "He got hit,'' he said. "He'll be all right."

With Erik Boland

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