NEW YORK — Designated hitter Lance Berkman returned to the Texas Rangers’ lineup Tuesday after an extended four-game break that allowed him to get a cortisone shot and rest his achy right knee and lower back.The 37-year-old, though, said that he isn’t concerned about either body part because, “I don’t have a significant injury.” He’s looking forward to seeing how he will respond to the rest, which included no appearances in St. Louis.“I think they were committed to giving me that series off and see if that would help,” said Berkman, who hadn’t played since June 19.Ron Washington said that Berkman’s availability at this point is day to day. The manager will ask Berkman Wednesday if he feels well enough to play, and will use him if he says he’s OK.The Rangers continue to think that Berkman will help them the rest of the season, even though he was riding a 16 for 87 (.184) skid entering the opener at Yankee Stadium and has aches and pains each day.“I think that he’s managing it, and I think Wash is doing a good job managing it,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “When we signed him we knew it wasn’t going to be a 162-game marathon for him. I think he can be productive.”Profar planUtility infielder Jurickson Profar will likely play again Thursday, one week after his most recent start, and is likely to see more consistent playing time with no more trips to National League ballparks this season.The rookie didn’t play over the weekend at St. Louis because the Rangers weren’t afforded the flexibility of having the designated hitter, a rule that isn’t used in the NL. Ron Washington said that he wasn’t going to play Profar in favor of second baseman Ian Kinsler, shortstop Elvis Andrus or third baseman Adrian Beltre — all All-Stars a year ago.“We just came out of a National League park,” Washington said. “I’ll mix him in games as we move forward.”But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Profar will be playing the outfield. He continues to work with outfield coach Gary Pettis before games, but Jon Daniels said there has been no talk of sending Profar to Triple A to play in the outfield nor is there any certainty that he will play the outfield for the Rangers.“Still a work in progress,” Washington said.Daniels called Profar’s outfield work a trial run, and also said that Washington has done a good job of getting baseball’s top prospect playing time. Profar has started four games and pinch-hit in three others since Kinsler was activated from the disabled list June 15.Baker swings Utility man Jeff Baker, on the DL with a sprained right thumb, swung a bat for the first time since being injured June 13 while on the receiving end of a vicious high-five from an “overexcited” and yet-to-be-named teammate.Baker hit off a tee and hopes to do so again Wednesday. He said the thumb is “good enough” to start trying to come back.“We’ll see how it feels tomorrow,” he said. “That will be the big test, but it’s good to be out of the training room.”On the mend • Right-hander Alexi Ogando (shoulder inflammation) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, his second since Sunday, and will throw another Thursday. If all goes well, he could be dispatched on a rehab assignment. • Left-hander Matt Harrison (back) and right-hander Colby Lewis (triceps) each played long-toss. Lewis has been working out with Double A Frisco while the Rangers have been on the road.• Right-hander Neftali Feliz threw his third bullpen session in his return from Tommy John surgery, and is still on target for August. He is throwing only fastballs and changeups.
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