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08/19/10 10:24 PM ET

Berkman placed on DL; Nunez called up

NEW YORK -- With his sprained right ankle healing slower than anticipated and the Yankees short on the bench, Lance Berkman was placed on the disabled list on Thursday.

Infielder Eduardo Nunez was called up to fill Berkman's spot on the roster.

"It hadn't progressed quite as quickly as we wanted it to," manager Joe Girardi said. "We're somewhat short on infielders without him. We thought it was in our best interest to DL him, and that way, he's not rushing back."

"It's still a little sore. There's one spot on the inside, where that ball is, that's still bothering me," Berkman said.

Berkman has yet to run since injuring the ankle on Sunday in Kansas City by stepping on pitcher Bryan Bullington's foot on a play at first base. On Thursday, he said he felt ready to run, but the trainers wanted him to wait at least another day.

"If there was a Doberman chasing me, I think I'd do alright," Berkman joked.

Berkman probably could have been back in the lineup before his time on the disabled list is over, but the Yankees were forced to make a move because of the uncertainty surrounding Alex Rodriguez's playing status. With Rodriguez day-to-day, the Yankees have been starting Ramiro Pena at third and have not had a backup infielder.

Placing Berkman on the disabled list and calling up Nunez solves that. Nunez, 23, has hit .289 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season while playing the majority of the time at shortstop. He's also played 11 games at third, though, and said he feels comfortable at the position.

"There's only so long you can go without a backup infielder," general manager Brian Cashman said. "[Nunez] has earned the right to be in the big leagues."

Nunez, who was an International League All-Star this season for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was justifiably excited for his first callup to the Majors.

"I couldn't believe it when they told me," he said.

Berkman was disappointed, but understood the need to make the move.

"It's obviously not ideal. I didn't come here to sit on the bench and rot on the DL," said Berkman, who added that his rehab schedule shouldn't be altered by the decision. "We're short. We had to do something."

A-Rod sits out third straight game

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez was out of the lineup for the third consecutive day on Thursday as he recovers from tightness in his left calf.

Rodriguez left Monday's game with the Tigers after four innings and has yet to see the field since. Nevertheless, the Yankees expect him to return to the lineup soon -- likely as a designated hitter at first.

"I don't think it's a long-term issue, but you want to make sure you take care of it," general manager Brian Cashman said. "Alex should not be a DL situation."

Manager Joe Girardi said he was not sure if Rodriguez would be available as a pinch-hitter on Thursday.

The callup of infielder Eduardo Nunez affords Girardi some added flexibility in how he works Rodriguez back into the lineup. With Nunez and Ramiro Pena available to play third, Girardi can play Rodriguez at DH for a few games until he's ready to return to the field.

Berkman reacts to indictment of Clemens

NEW YORK -- Yankees first baseman Lance Berkman wanted to share his thoughts on his former teammate after hearing a federal grand jury has indicted Roger Clemens on charges of making false statements to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"I hate to see that, I really do. Roger is a great guy," Berkman said. "I don't care what happens, I love the guy. I feel bad for him and his family, but he's a big boy and he'll face up to whatever it is. It doesn't change my opinion of him at all."

Berkman and Clemens played together with the Houston Astros during the 2004 and '05 seasons, clubs that also featured Andy Pettitte as a member of the pitching staff.

Berkman has not maintained an especially strong link with Clemens, though he said he will support his Houston neighbor in any way possible.

"We're not that close -- I've seen him twice in two years and spoken to him maybe one other time," Berkman said. "It's not like we're bosom buddies. The time that we did spend together, I developed an affinity for him. Nothing will change that."

No matter what the outcome of the federal indictment is, Berkman said that he considers Clemens worthy of the Hall of Fame.

"He had a run there with us that I've never seen before," Berkman said. "He's an amazing pitcher. His control was second to none. I've never seen anyone that can control the game and control the ball the way he could do it.

"In my opinion, he's a Hall of Famer, period. Whatever you want to say about the guy, he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Legacy-wise, 200 years from now, who cares? He'll just be a name. But in the short term, he may have some things to address."

Yankees' bullpen continues to impress

NEW YORK -- The Yankees displayed their newfound bullpen depth on Wednesday night, with six relievers backing up Dustin Moseley to preserve a 9-5 victory over the Tigers.

Kerry Wood and David Robertson each worked out of bases-loaded jams before the ball was handed over to Mariano Rivera in the ninth.

Manager Joe Girardi has reworked his bullpen a little bit since the end of July, opening up the eighth-inning role that previously belonged to Joba Chamberlain to a cadre of relievers including Chamberlain, Robertson, Wood and Boone Logan.

Girardi determines who to use based on matchups and rest, with the added options giving him increased flexibility late in games.

"It's a combination. Who needs a day off? Who does the matchup favor?" Girardi said. "I've been mixing and matching with them, and they've done a tremendous job."

Robertson has led the resurgence. After struggling through the season's first three months with an ERA over six, Robertson hasn't allowed a run since July 2 -- a span of 18 games and 17 2/3 innings. A lot of it is just his luck evening out. Robertson's batting average on balls in play was an astronomical .408 through July 2; it's down to .216 since.

"It's working out real well right now," Robertson said on Wednesday night. "We've got a lot of good arms out there, and everything's falling into place."

The addition of Wood has certainly helped, with the right-hander allowing one run over nine innings with 13 strikeouts.

"I'm pleased to put up zeros," Wood said. "We're all feeding off each other."

Wood even punctuated his seventh-inning escape with an uncharacteristically demonstrative fist pump.

"That's why we play the game. You want to be in this situation," he said. "This is fun to be in a pennant race with a chance to win."

Chamberlain and Logan haven't been slouches out of the bullpen recently, either. Since losing his hold on the eighth inning, Chamberlain has allowed a single earned run on four hits in his last 10 2/3 innings. Logan hasn't given up a run in his last 13 appearances, spanning 13 games back to July 21.

Worth noting

Reliever Alfredo Aceves was back in the Yankees' clubhouse on Thursday, but he's not quite ready to return to the roster just yet. Aceves has appeared in two rehab games for Double-A Trenton, allowing one run on one hit in 4 1/3 innings as he continues his recovery from a strained lower back that has kept him out since early May. "He's a guy that's just knocking out the rust," general manager Brian Cashman said. "The belief is he'd benefit and therefore we'd benefit from him getting a few more outings." ... The Yankees have scored two or more runs in the first inning in six of their last 10 home games. ... Wood's strikeout of Ramon Santiago to end the seventh on Wednesday was the 1,500th of his career. Wood reached the mark faster than anyone in Major League history, taking just 1,303 innings to get there. ... With a win on Thursday, the Yankees can claim their first series victory in August. After dropping two of three to Toronto, the Yankees have split their last three series with Boston, Texas and Kansas City.

Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.