Yankees put Lance Berkman on DL

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees placed Lance Berkman on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle on Thursday morning.

"We just felt [Berkman's injury] hasn't progressed quite as quickly as we wanted it to," Joe Girardi said.

Triple-A infielder Eduardo Nunez was called up to take Berkman's roster spot.

Alex Rodriguez is listed as day to day with a left calf strain so the Yankees need Nunez to provide depth in the infield. Prior to Nunez's arrival, catcher Francisco Cervelli had been the team's most qualified backup infielder.

Nunez has played shortstop, third base and second base in the minor leagues. The 6-foot, 155-pound prospect from the Dominican Republic hit .289 in 118 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman called Nunez a "tremendous athlete" who also can play in the outfield. "He's been waiting for an opportunity to come up and here it is," Cashman said.

Berkman suffered the sprain last Sunday in Kansas City when he stepped on Royals pitcher Bryan Bullington's foot while trying to beat out a double play against the Royals last Sunday. Berkman's placement on the DL is retroactive to Aug. 15.

Berkman, a five-time All-Star, is batting .179 (7 for 39) with the Yankees since he was acquired from Houston at the July 31 trade deadline. The switch-hitter has made eight starts at designated hitter and three at first base.

"We're short, so they had to do something to fortify -- particularly get another infielder in here," Berkman said. "It's obviously not ideal. I didn't come over here to sit on the bench and rot on the DL. But the better part of the season will be -- the most exciting time is September and hopefully October. So, just trying to get ready for that."

Berkman said he'll be ready to come off the DL as soon as he's eligible on Aug. 31 against Oakland. The Yankees began the day tied with Tampa Bay atop the AL East.

Berkman said he still has swelling in the ankle. He wanted to run on Thursday but the team training staff did not want him to risk aggravating the injury.

The Yankees traded minor league pitchers Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes to the Houston Astros for Berkman on July 31. They also picked up a significant portion of the $7.5 million Berkman is owed for the remainder of 2010.

Ian Begley is a contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.