NEW YORK -- If there were any doubts about Lance Berkman's mental well-being following a slip in foul territory on Wednesday, he allayed them quickly after the Yankees' 7-2 win over the Rangers in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. With a large ice pack wrapped around his lower back, Berkman quipped that of all the things injured by the fall, his pride hurt the most.
Berkman's self-deprecation belies how serious his fall in the fourth inning while tracking a Nelson Cruz foul pop looked at first. Two steps on to the warning track, Berkman's feet flew out from under him, as if he were "on an ice rink," he said. He landed hard on his lower back, and his head snapped back, but fortunately not enough to make contact with the ground.
"I was looking at the ball, and the next thing I know, I'm flat on my back looking at the sky," Berkman said, adding that he switched to metal spikes after that inning. "It didn't feel great."
Berkman lay face-down on the dirt for a few minutes while being tended to by team trainers, who eventually flipped him on to his back. He was able to sit up and stay in the game -- after informing the trainers that it was Wednesday and that Barack Obama is the president.
The fall hurt enough to make Berkman think his head had indeed hit the ground.
"It felt like I had just got lit up in football. I was kind of a little out of it," Berkman said. "You always worry about getting a concussion, but that's not the case. Other than that, it's just a spill."
Fortunately, Berkman was not due up in the bottom of the fourth, giving him some time to stretch out before his next at-bat, in which he drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to the edge of the track in center.
The Yankees could ill afford to lose Berkman one day after Mark Teixeira suffered a Grade 2 right hamstring strain that will keep him out of the rest of the postseason. If Berkman had to leave the game, New York would have been forced to move Nick Swisher to first base and play Austin Kearns in the outfield. Kearns has yet to appear in the postseason after struggling mightily in the regular season's final six weeks.
"After what happened with Tex last night, that's the last thing you want to see," Brett Gardner said. "That's the last position you want to see somebody go down. Thank goodness it wasn't anything serious."
The club will have to monitor Berkman going forward. Both he and manager Joe Girardi expect a fair amount of soreness on Thursday.
"He's probably going to need some treatment, and we are going to have to get him ready for Friday," Girardi said. "He gutted it out today for us."
Berkman is grateful for the day off on Thursday, but not exactly looking forward to sitting in one spot for the four-hour flight to Texas.
"That's going to be interesting," he said. "They may have to carry me off the plane."
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.