The Yankees' Lance Berkman, left, kneels next to first base...

The Yankees' Lance Berkman, left, kneels next to first base coach Mick Kelleher after injuring his ankle while trying to beat out a double play. (Aug. 15, 2010) Credit: AP

The Yankees put Lance Berkman (sprained ankle) on the disabled list Thursday, even though they believe he'll be ready well before his 15-day stint is up.

With Alex Rodriguez out for a few days with a calf injury, the Yankees didn't want to risk playing any more games without a backup middle infielder. They sacrificed Berkman's roster spot to bring up Eduardo Nuñez from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Berkman said he understands the team's predicament but is disappointed. "It's obviously not ideal," he said. "I didn't come out here to sit on the bench and rot on the DL, but the better part of the season - the most exciting time - will be September, and hopefully October. So I'm just trying to get ready for that."

Berkman rolled his right ankle during a collision at first base Sunday in Kansas City. He has not played since and the trainers haven't let him attempt to run.

Berkman, 7-for-39 since being acquired at the trade deadline, said his ankle still has some swelling but he is not concerned. Before the Yankees put him on the DL, he was hoping to get clearance to start running. Said Berkman, "I feel like if there was a Doberman chasing me, I could probably do all right."

Trainer's room

Rodriguez, who has missed the last three games, took batting practice in the cage before the game. GM Brian Cashman suggested A-Rod initially will return to the lineup as a DH.

Alfredo Aceves, out since May 12 with a strained lower back, "would benefit from getting a few more outings under his belt" before returning to the Yankees, Cashman said. He struck out four in 21/3 innings for Trenton on Tuesday but needs to work on his arm strength.

Extra bases

In the fourth, Mark Teixeira made a sliding catch of Johnny Damon's foul fly after it twice popped out of his glove. On the next pitch, Jhonny Peralta lined a drive to left-center, and while running at full speed, Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson both got their gloves on it. Granderson caught it and they barely avoided what could have been a major collision.

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