Berkman was omitted from the lineup Saturday for just that reason. The inside of his left hand is bruised and swollen, and although he assured manager Phil Garner that he could play, the skipper took the precautionary route and gave the first baseman the day off.
Berkman missed several games in 2006 with the same ailment. He's hoping this time he only has to sit out one game.
"That soft tissue that's in between there gets mangled basically," Berkman said. "Every time I swing, it puts it at risk. It starts out you get jammed, and it gets a little tender. Then it happens again and it gets a little tender. It happens two or three times in a row, then it'll really blow up.
"If it gets any worse than this, I'd have to be shut down for two or three days. Maybe get some treatment on it, get it calmed down, I'll miss today and it'll be better tomorrow."
The timing of the injury was a blow to the Astros, considering Berkman appears to be out of his two-month slump, as evidenced by his current 10-game hitting streak.
"It's unfortunate because I feel like this year when I do get on a roll, it's something like the suspension or this -- it's start and stop," he said. "I feel like I have more missed games in the first half of this year than I have had in five years."
Waiting: Chad Qualls was off for three games heading into Saturday's game, which begs the question, why didn't he just serve his suspension?
According to Garner, he planned to use Qualls on Friday, had the game not gotten out of hand in the fifth inning. In a closer game, Qualls probably would have pitched the seventh, but after the Rangers scored eight in the fifth, the hard-throwing back end of the bullpen wasn't needed.
Also, Qualls wants the length of the supension and the fine to be reduced. He was suspended three games and fined $3,000 -- punishments the right-hander feels were a bit extreme.
Qualls is waiting for his case to be reviewed, but as of Saturday, he had not heard anything on the front.
"I'm hoping to get it reduced -- money and days," he said. "I thought it was a lot of money. We're going to wait to get it reviewed. I asked [Dan] Wheeler. He said his review [in 2004] took two weeks after he was suspended. I don't know how long it'll take for me."
One-liners: Prior to every Saturday game on FOX, a player is asked to read his team's starting lineup, which is aired on the pregame show. On Saturday, Brad Ausmus was asked to read the Astros' lineup, and in typical Ausmus fashion, the lineup was accompanied by some humorous commentary.
Among the highlights: "Batting fifth, power of the unibrow, Mike Lamb," and "batting eighth, overpaid and overplayed Brad Ausmus."
Wives gala: Tickets are still available for the annual Black Ties and Baseball Caps Wives Gala, which will take place on Aug. 9 on the field at Minute Maid Park.
The gala, which benefits the Houston Area Women's Center, will begin at 6:30 p.m. CT with a reception and silent auction followed by the live auction, dinner and entertainment. The gala will be co-charied by Jill Borkowski and Sara Burke, and Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton will serve as the Master of Ceremonies.
Auction items of notable mention include Celebrity Dining in the Heart of Houston, where 30 guests will enjoy dining in the River Oaks home of Tony and Mary Gracely with select Astros and their wives, including Cara and Lance Berkman, Ericka and Jeff Bagwell, Sara and Chris Burke, Nicole and Roy Oswalt, Jennifer and Adam Everett, Stephanie and Dan Wheeler and more.
Also up for bid is the Royal Real Playa Del Carmen -- a vacation for five couples to a six-star all inclusive resort for six nights and seven days. Private Gulfstream Jet, First Class Suites, all food and beverages, entertainment nightly and 24-hour concierge services were donated by Dream Flights Luxury Travel and Lindsay Lakes.
Table prices for the gala are $4,000 for a table of 10, $5,000 for a table of eight plus an Astros couple, $10,000 for a table of eight with an Astros couple of your choice, $15,000 for a table of eight priority seats with an Astros couple of your choice and $25,000 for a table of eight priority seats plus an Astros couple of your choice. Seating with a player of choice is honored first by level of sponsorship and second in order received. For ticket information call Judy Nichols at 713- 781-0053.
Coming up: The Astros and Rangers will conclude the three-game weekend set on Sunday, beginning at 7:35 p.m. CT. Right-hander Chris Sampson (6-5, 3.70) will face Rangers righty Robinson Tejeda (5-7, 6.49).
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.