Yankees' Damon appears headed to DL with shoulder injury

NEW YORK -- Johnny Damon was very careful as he got dressed to leave the ballpark Saturday, wincing from the pain in his left shoulder as he pulled a shirt over his head.

One day after the New York Yankees outfielder crashed into the left-field wall on one strange triple, Damon was still holding out hope he won't have to go on the disabled list for the first time in his 14-season major league career.

It just didn't sound very good.

"I think we'll know more tomorrow," he said Saturday after the Yankees' 2-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox. "If I wake up and I'm feeling the same then I think they're going to DL me. But if I'm improving, [they'll] try to keep getting me ready."

On Sunday, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reported Damon was diagnosed with a severely bruised AC joint.

The official word from the Yankees is that Damon has a sprained and bruised shoulder.

Damon is hitting .319 with six home runs and 37 RBIs, with 13 stolen bases.

He sprained and bruised his shoulder trying to track down Kevin Youkilis' line drive in the third inning of New York's 6-4 loss to Boston on Friday.

Damon raced back, jumped and gloved the ball but lost it when he crashed into the fence. It popped out of the webbing of his glove, bounced up off the top of the wall and came to rest briefly on the fence.

The sellout crowd of 55,130 at Yankee Stadium was riveted as the ball paused for a moment before rolling back onto the field. Youkilis cruised into third with a tying two-run triple as Damon threw the ball into the infield before leaving the game.

Damon got an X-ray and an MRI exam, which revealed a sprain in the joint.

The uncertainty with Damon left the Yankees with just three healthy outfielders for the third of their four-game series against Boston.

"Our team has been playing short-handed all year," said Damon, rattling off injuries to fellow outfielder Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada. "There was a while we were going out with 22 guys with Posada being down earlier.

"We've been pretty banged-up and hopefully we can finish the first half strong and kind of evaluate where we're going."

The Yankees could have a better idea about Matsui's balky left knee Tuesday, when Girardi said he probably will be re-evaluated.

Brett Gardner got the start in left field Saturday, hit a sacrifice fly and also threw out Dustin Pedroia trying to stretch a single in the first. Melky Cabrera, who had an RBI single, was in center and Bobby Abreu in right. Girardi said utility infielder Wilson Betemit could play the outfield if needed.

New York has an off day Monday before it hosts Tampa Bay for two games starting Tuesday night. There is another off day Thursday and the All-Star break runs from July 14-17, limiting the amount of games Damon would miss if he goes on the DL.

"Obviously that helps you if you have to do something," Girardi said of the break, "because you get four free days. If something happens to him where you have to put him on the DL you're looking at missing 10 games instead like 13, 14."

The Yankees sent Justin Christian to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre on Monday and could recall him if they put Damon on the DL.

New York also made a minor move before the win over Boston, activating right-hander Chris Britton from the 15-day disabled list and optioning him to its top farm club. Britton (strained left rib cage) was on a rehab stint.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.