Damon injured his left shoulder in the third inning of Friday's 6-4 loss to the Red Sox, chasing a Kevin Youkilis drive to deep left. Damon briefly snared the ball, but lost it when his shoulder hit the fence, with the outfielder falling to the warning track. The ball briefly stuck on top of the wall before dropping in play for a two-run triple.
X-rays were taken at Yankee Stadium, which came back negative, and Damon was taken for an MRI exam at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, which revealed a bruise and a sprain of his shoulder's left AC joint. Damon said the shoulder still felt sore, though he was able to sleep with some careful positioning.
"I think it's a little better today," Damon said. "There's certain movements that I don't feel like I can do, like pushing things out, but I'm not bench-pressing on the field or anything. I think the toughest thing is not being able to pick up your daughter at home."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he planned to meet with general manager Brian Cashman and trainer Gene Monahan to plot a course of action. Because of the upcoming All-Star break, the Yankees would essentially be provided with four free days to count against the 15-day disabled list, making this perhaps an ideal time to disable Damon, if required.
"Obviously, that helps you if you have to do something, because you get four free days," Girardi said. "If something happens to him where you have to put him on the DL, you're looking at him missing 10 days instead of 13 or 14."
Damon said that he would not even attempt to swing a bat or throw a ball for at least another day, and anyone who watched the way he winced in pain after throwing in Youkilis' triple would understand.
He was uncertain if the shoulder would allow him to play in the two-game series against the Rays that opens on Tuesday, though Girardi said he was not ruling it out.
"It's too early to tell," Girardi said.
More immediately, the Yankees will be playing with a short bench, carrying Damon as an active player for the time being. Girardi said the Yankees did not have time to call a reinforcement up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre since they were waiting to examine Damon.
Girardi said that infielder Wilson Betemit has been taking fly balls and could find himself pressed into duty as an emergency outfielder. Rookie Brett Gardner started on Saturday in place of Damon in left field.
If the Yankees disable Damon, they could recall Justin Christian, who was optioned on Monday and would otherwise need to wait 10 days from the date of demotion.
Damon ranks sixth in the American League with a .319 batting average and leads the Major Leagues with a .389 batting average over a 40-game span since May 20, the date Alex Rodriguez was activated from the 15-day disabled list. Damon has six home runs, 37 RBIs, 13 stolen bases and 50 runs in 82 games.
Damon was able to avoid the disabled list last year, even though painful calf cramps hampered his production in the first month of the season, but he may not be so lucky this time around.
"You just have to do what's best for the team," Girardi said. "You love guys that don't spend time on the DL and are able to stay healthy, but sometimes you have to look at the situation and make the best decision."