The move was made before the team's series finale against Detroit and is retroactive to Aug. 16, the day after Berkman rolled his ankle while stumbling across first base as he tried to beat a throw in Kansas City.
"We just felt that it hadn't progressed quite as quickly as we wanted it to," manager Joe Girardi said. "We just felt that it was probably in his and our best interest to DL him and that way he's not rushing back. He still lacks some stability and has not had a chance to run yet."
To fill Berkman's roster spot, the Yankees recalled infielder Eduardo Nunez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he was batting .289 and leading the International League with 134 hits. New York needed a reinforcement in the infield because third baseman Alex Rodriguez is sidelined with a strained left calf.
Rodriguez, who is day to day, was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game Thursday. Ramiro Pena started at third base, and Austin Kearns was the DH.
Girardi said he would talk to Rodriguez after he underwent treatment to find out whether the slugger would be available off the bench as a pinch hitter.
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.