Tagged: Eduardo Nunez

The lineup for the second game of the series against the Minnesota Twins

Greg Bird.

Greg Bird.

The Yankees will look to win their second consecutive game in the series against the Minnesota Twins. CC Sabathia, who was originally scheduled to start on Monday, will get the start tonight because it was decided that everyone in the rotation would get an extra day of rest.

The Yankees won Monday’s game 8-7 in 10 innings as Chase Headley’s ground out to the shortstop scored Brendan Ryan for the game-winning run. Carlos Beltran’s homer to left that scored Greg Bird in the sixth inning tied the game at seven. That was Beltran’s third homer in his last four games and Bird’s pinch-hit double was his first hit at Yankee Stadium.

Bryan Mitchell was unfortunately hit in the face by a line drive by Eduardo Nunez in the second inning, which forced the bullpen to pitch the final 8.1 innings. Mitchell walked off the field with the assistance of athletic trainer Steve Donahue, and Mitchell ended up coming away with a nasal fracture, which is better than it could have been given the circumstance. The bullpen will be shorthanded tonight since Chasen Shreve, Justin WIlson, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller all pitched during Monday’s game.

The Yankees, who are now a game ahead of the Blue Jays since Toronto didn’t play last night, will send out a different lineup than normal tonight. Chase Headley will get the night off and Ryan will play third base.

“I just felt Head could use a day,” Girardi said. “I gave him that day (in Cleveland) to try to give him two days because his legs were beat up, and I think he played eight innings that day. I just feel that he can use a day.” In 119 plate appearances with runners in scoring position this season, Headley has a line of .324/.370/.543 with 43 RBIs.

Mark Teixeira, who fouled a ball off his right leg just below his knee during last night’s game, had X-rays last night that were negative. However, his further tests did reveal that he had a deep bone bruise. It could take a few days until he is back in the lineup.

Bird, who has a .200 average in 10 at-bats, has been impressive at the plate so far even though he only has two hits. He has found the holes recently since both of his hits have come in his previous two at-bats. He will get the start tonight for Teixeira and is ready to play the next few games in case Teixeira is not able to.

“At least he’s gotten his feet wet, which is helpful,” Girardi said. “It’s not like we had him called up today and said you’re in the lineup. He’s done a good job over there. He may be called into duty for a few days.”

Here is the lineup for tonight’s game against the Twins:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran RF
Greg Bird 1B
Didi Gregorius SS
Stephen Drew 2B
Brendan Ryan 3B

Yangervis Solarte gives the Yankees defensive versatility for their last roster spot

Yangervis Solarte hitting during spring training with the Yankees.

Yangervis Solarte hitting during spring training with the Yankees.

It was announced a few days ago that Dellin Betances and Vidal Nuno, who could play key roles in the bullpen, will start the season with Yankees for the first time, and it was announced yesterday that the Yankees have decided to award Yangervis Solarte with the second back-up infield position (Dean Anna is the other) instead of Eduardo Nunez. It is somewhat surprising that Nunez was not chosen, but after being thought of as the successor to Derek Jeter a few years ago, he is obviously not thought of highly in the organization.

Brendan Ryan would have had one of those spots as Derek Jeter’s backup, but he is on the disabled list with a pinched nerve in his back/neck. He will not be ready until the middle of April at the earliest since he will likely have to go down to extended spring training once he is ready for games.

Solarte previously played six years in the Minnesota Twins’ organization and then spent the last two seasons with Texas Rangers where he hit .282 in the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A).The 26-year-old from Venezuela has never played a major league game, but offers versatility, having the ability to play second, shortstop, third and outfield. This is important because he is someone who can easily step in for Brian Roberts or Kelly Johnson in case they get injured.

Nunez, who has been sent to Triple-A Scranton since he still had an option, is obviously more established offensively at the major league level, but he has not shown enough consistency while at times being very unreliable defensively. Nunez hit .292 in 38 games in 2012, but in 2013, when the Yankees were counting on him to be the everyday shortstop after Jeter’s injury, he was injured and only hit .260 in 90 games. Since Nunez has some power and speed but not enough overall talent to help the team more often than not, especially as he often made inexcusable miscues at second, short and third, it makes sense to move on from him, at least at the start of the season.

Based on the injury histories of the current players on the team, the Yankees can’t have a backup infielder who can’t be trusted on defense or who doesn’t have much versatility. Solarte would be able to play outfield if Jacoby Ellsbury needs a day off or if the calf injury he had in Florida reoccurs. Hopefully Ellsbury does not have the bad luck injures that he has had in the past. Another benefit of having Solarte on the roster is that he can be counted on since he has played in at least 130 games in each of the last two seasons.

During spring training Solarte hit better than he has hit in previous years in the minors. In the Grapefruit League his stats were an unbelievable .429 average, two homers and nine RBI. It is not likely that this will continue in the regular season, since those stats can be a mirage, but it does prove that he has potential. Last season he made eight errors in 88 games at third base, two in 20 games at third and two in 20 games at shortstop.

Hopefully the Yankees will not need Solarte to play significantly but it is worth seeing if he can help the team given an opportunity. It is risky that the two backup infielders to start the season have no major league experience, but Ryan should be healthy in a few weeks and Nunez can always be called up if one of the two don’t work out. Betances, who went to high school in Brooklyn, will also be making the team out of spring training for the first time, but he appears much more ready to make an immediate impact.

Brendan Ryan is not expected to be ready for Opening Day

The only spots that are not locked up to come north to the Bronx right now are the bullpen behind David Robertson and Shawn Kelley, the fifth starter position (it appears to be Michael Pineda) and the back-up infielders. Brendan Ryan, who came into spring training as the slick-fielding back-up shortstop, is not expected to be ready for Opening Day.

Ryan, signed a two-year, $5 million contract over the winter after coming to the team in September, has not played in game action since March 4. It was initially called an oblique injury, but after further evaluation it turned into a lower back ailment. Even worse, he still has the pinch in his upper back that he sustained after throwing a baseball a half hour before Thursday’s game.

He will not play this upcoming week and when asked if there was a chance that he would Ryan said, “I don’t even think they’ll let me if I wanted to.” Since it seems like the might have to start the season on the disabled list as a result of his back injury, their options as backup infielders include Dean Anna, Eduardo Nunez and Yangervis Solarte.

The decision should be between Solarte and Nunez. Anna should be sent to AAA based on his subpar .265 average in spring training. The 27-year-old career minor leaguer did hit .331 last season in AAA in the Pacific Coast League, but offensive numbers are usually higher in that league than in the rest of AAA. Even though he has versatility, he should start at Scranton and be called up eventually if he plays well.

Yangervis Solarte, who was a non-roster invitee before spring training, has come out of nowhere to hit .471 in 34 at-bats so far. He has two homers, nine runs scored and eight runs batted in. The 26-year old can play every second base, third base, shortstop and left field.  Solarte played on the Triple-A team of the Rangers last season, and has been in the minors since 2006. It is unknown what he can do on the major league level, but his numbers in so far in Florida are promising.

Nunez definitely has the most impressive career out of the three so far. The major question mark with him is his defense, which has often been suspect while with the Yankees. However, he has shown the ability to make the routine and remarkable play, and he has the ability to hit for contact and for some power as well as steal bases. In 2012, in 38 games played, he had a .292 average, 11 RBI and 11 steals. Last season, his average dipped to .260, but he hit .295 with two homers and eight RBI in 78 at-bats during September.

Something Solarte has against him is that he is not currently on the 40-man roster, but his versatility and offensive skills could be hard to ignore. They could remove Nik Turley or Bryan Mitchell, who are currently on the 40-man and replace one of them with Solarte. It would make sense to have Solarte and Nunez come north, and then send Solarte down to Triple-A once Ryan is healthy.

********************************************************************************************

It is important for the backup infielders to play well, to go along with Mark Teixiera, Brian Roberts, Derek Jeter and Kelly Johnson in the infield, but it is just as important that the starting pitching performs well and stays healthy. If the starters can do this, and the offense stays healthy, they will have a chance of winning the division.

You have the defending champs (Boston Red Sox), but if we pitch well, I think we have the guys to over take them,” CC Sabathia said on Pride Power and Pinstripes.

The state of the Yankees without Alex Rodriguez for the 2014 season

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez has had his 211-game suspension reduced to 162-game ban, by the independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, which will mean that he will not be able to play in the entire regular season or in the playoffs. After the 162-game suspension was announced on January 11, Alex Rodriguez announced that he would take the suspension to federal court and has said that he still intends on coming to spring training.

A-Rod is not technically banned from spring training, and he will be able to show up because under the Joint Drug Agreement and the Collective Bargaining Agreement his representatives believe that nothing prevents him from showing up. He will file an injunction, which does not have much of a chance of reversing the suspension, so he would want to be in shape and ready for the season.

The Yankees would have every right to put him on a field with minor leaguers since he would not really deserve to train with major league players who can help the team this season. He is basically all about himself and if he does end up going to spring training it would be because he wants all of the attention that he can get.

Some have said that A-Rod’s suspension should be similar to the 65 games that Ryan Braun received, but the 60 Minutes piece basically proves that he deserves a more lengthy ban. Bosch does not seem like a very credible individual since he and his clinic supplied the drugs to many athletes, but it does seem like the is telling the truth in this interview. A-Rod initially lied about taking steroids while he was with the Texas Rangers, and then when he went on Mike Francesa’s show on WFAN he repeatedly lied about taking any banned substances or obstructing any evidence.

Here is what Anthony Bosch, A-Rod’s supplier of banned substances out of the Miami based Biogenesis Clinic, said on 60 Minutes:

As of now, two players who will likely see most of the time at third base this season will be Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez. This combination could work for the Yankees, and they likely would not be much worse than what A-Rod would have produced. They will definitely not give the Yankees as many distractions as A-Rod would have.

In 44 games last season, A-Rod hit a career low .244, only had 19 RBIs and can’t nearly move like he used to. Even though he had hip surgery that caused him not to play until after the All-Star break, the banned substances that he has been taking clearly didn’t work for him last season.

Nunez played 14 games last season at third base, which equaled 120 innings, and only committed two errors. He previously played 83 innings at third in 2010 and 285.1 innings at the hot corner in 2011. Based on how he played third last season he should be reliable defensively. He is not gold glove caliber, but he will not hurt the team, can make difficult and routine plays and has the ability to help with his bat. He had a .260 average, 28 RBIs and 10 steals in 90 games last season, and in the last 14 days of the season (42 at-bats) he hit .310 with two homers and five RBIs.

Johnson, who played last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, only hit .235 last season but slugged 16 homers in 118 games last season. He hit a career-high 26 homers for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, and Yankees Stadium’s short left field porch should benefit him. Last season, Johnson played 16 games at third, starting 12, while making one error and getting 31 assists. He has proven that he can produce in the AL East since he has played parts of the last three seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Rays.

The Yankees have also made the signing of Brian Roberts official. Roberts, the longtime productive yet often injured second baseman of the Baltimore Orioles, will be using the roster spot that that Yankees will not be using on A-Rod. He has averaged just 48 games per season since 2010, but he has been healthy since the end of last season. He has a one-year, $2 million dollar contract, and in the last 14 days of last season (42 at-bats), Roberts hit .310 and hit four homers.

The Yankees will be able to use the $27.5 million that they will not be paying A-Rod this season on signing Masahiro Tanaka (or another starter) and a relief pitcher. It has been reported that Tanaka wants to play for the Dodgers or Yankees, and it seems like the Dodgers are going to give their ace, Clayton Kershaw, a record setting deal in the next couple weeks, according to Buster Olney. This could be beneficial for the Yankees.

Andy Pettitte went out on top on Saturday with his 219th win as a Yankee

Andy Pettitte going out for a curtain call after his final start.

Andy Pettitte going out for a curtain call after his final start.

The 2-1 win by the Yankees over the Astros at Minute Maid Park gave Andrew Eugene Pettitte a win in his final start for the Yankees. It was the 256th win of his career and 219th with the Yankees (he pitched three seasons for the Astros). His 219 wins are the third most in the illustrious history of the Yankees.

It is only fitting that Andy Pettitte’s final Major League start came in Houston because that is where he is from. He actually lives in Deer Park, and Pettitte said that it is a 20-minute drive from Minute Maid Park. Pettitte said that he left tickets for 50 family and friends to attend this game. Tonight showed how much the city of Houston is behind Pettitte because he got a standing ovation in the eighth inning and again in the ninth inning.

After the game, Joe Girardi said that it was going to be Pettitte’s call when or if he came out of the game. In the ninth inning, with Chris Carter on first base, Giradi came to the mound to see if he had enough in him to get the final out, and Pettitte said he wanted to do it. He ended up allowing only five hits and one run in his final Major League start. It was his first complete game since a start in 2006 for the Astros.

He was able to induce the final two double plays of his career to go along with adding five more strikeouts. His strikeout of Brandon Barnes in the eighth inning was his 2,448th of his career. There were only two innings where the Astros had runners in scoring position, and the only run the Astros scored was on a groundout by Chris Carter.

The Yankees scored both of their runs in the sixth inning. Robinson Cano’s single to shallow right, which was one of his two hits, drove in Chris Stewart. That RBI was Cano’s 107th of the season. Eduardo Nunez scored what ended up being the winning run, as the Astros catcher, Matt Pagnozzi, spiked the ball into the ground as he was trying to throw to second allowing Nunez to score from third.

He finished with 275 wins when you combine his wins from the regular season and the postseason. His 19 playoff wins are the most in MLB history. He has pitched 67.2 innings more in the postseason than the second place finisher, John Smoltz, but it is impressive that he has not let the increased pressure of the playoff games get to him.

One of his best games of his career came in Game 5 of the ’96 World Series where he out-dueled John Smoltz. This was his second season and in a match-up against Smoltz he allowed only five hits in a game the Yankees would win 1-0. 1996 would be the first of Pettitte’s five World Series championships.

Pettitte is retiring after 18 seasons pitched in the major leagues, 15 for the Yankees and three for the Astros. The win on Saturday night had added significance because it meant that he never had a record below .500 in any of his 18 seasons (11-11 this season). He is the only pitcher in baseball history to pitch at least 15 seasons and not have one season under .500. He finished with a career record of 256 and 153 and a 3.85 ERA.  The high ERA and admitted PED usage might keep him out of the Hall of Fame but he would be worthy based on his other numbers.

In his final 10 starts this season, Pettitte had a remarkable 1.94 ERA. His cutter was on point during the whole game. It is fitting that during his final start he had a season-high of 116 pitches since he always wanted to do all he could to get the Yankees a win and that is exactly what he did in this start. He is one of the best competitors in baseball history and that is what he did up until the very end.

Mariano Rivera announced before Saturday’s game that he will not pitch or play the outfield in Sunday’s game. He thought that based on his performance and ceremony during Thursday’s game at Yankee Stadium that that was a perfect way to go out. There were rumors of him getting a few innings in centerfield as he has often put on a show in batting practice but he has developed an injury based on his increased usage to end the season.

However, even though it would have made sense for two of the great winners in MLB history to make the playoffs in their final season, it is great that Rivera and Pettitte were both able to end their careers pitching well.

Eduardo Nunez’s two-run double ended up being the game winner against the White Sox

Eduardo Nunez.

Eduardo Nunez.

The Yankees defeated the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night after they scored five runs in the eighth inning. They recorded an impressive six of their nine hits in that pivotal sixth inning. The Yankees did their damage off of the White Sox bullpen as they scored all of their runs in the eighth after White Six ace Chris Sale left the game with one out and runners on second and third.

Hiroki Kuroda did not pitch up to the standards that he had earlier in this season that put him in CY Young consideration up until allowing 15 runs in three starts, but Kuroda showed some improvement after pitching into the sixth inning and striking out seven batters. He had not recorded seven strikeouts since August 12, and the four runs and seven hits were both less then he had allowed in his last two starts.

Sale, whose 2.97 ERA is the sixth best in the American League, dominated the Yankees for the second time in the past month. However, more importantly, the Yankees were able to get the win this time as their offense has greatly improved. They got clutch hits from four players who have spent time on the disabled list this season in that pivotal eighth inning.

In the second inning, Vernon Wells, who has been struggling recently, scored the team’s first run on a steal of home in the middle of a double steal after getting on base via a single. It did not look promising for the Yankees when the White Sox took a 4-1 lead in the seventh after Alexandro De Aza’s 16th homer, but the home team’s offensive onslaught was about to come in full force.

After Joe Girardi made the correct decision to pinch-hit Austin Romine for Chris Stewart in the seventh (Stewart doesn’t have a hit in his last 20 at-bats), Robinson Cano hit a double off the wall in to send Derek Jeter to third, which would start the rally and send Sale to the showers.

After Sale left the game for reliever Nate Jones, Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run single that drove in Jeter and Cano. Those were his 38th and 39th runs driven in during his 36 games with the Yankees. He has given the team even more than Brian Cashman could have hoped for. Those runs made the score 4-3. After an Alex Rodriguez single advanced Soriano to third, Curtis Granderson’s pinch-hit single drove in Soriano.

However, the hero of the game was Eduardo Nunez. Nunez, who is hitting .384 in his last 13 at-bats, smashed a double down the third base line to score A-Rod and Granderson. That hit would seal the win. Nunez received a much deserved Gatorade shower during his interview with Meredith Marakovits after what was his most clutch hit of his career.

Mariano Rivera came in for the ninth inning and retired the side in order to record his 40th save of the season. He has now saved 40 games nine times in his Hall of Fame career. His 2.12 ERA proves that he still has a lot left in the tank and could likely dominate again next year. It has been reported that Joe Girardi will try and delay his scheduled retirement until after the 2014 season.

Their win combined with the Orioles loss moves the Yankees up in the Wild-Card standings to 2.5 games back and half-a-game ahead of the Orioles. It seemed like the Yankees would gain ground on the Tampa Bay Rays who have one Wild-Card spot right now, since they were 0-9 in the Pacific time zone this season, but  They could move even closer if the Rays lose the game they are currently playing in Anaheim. The Rays are currently 0-9 in the Pacific time zone this year, but Tampa routed the Angels.

Soriano’s two homers (including his 400th) and Pettitte led the Yankees to a much needed win

Soriano celebrating after last night's first inning homer.

Soriano celebrating after last night’s first inning homer.

On Tuesday night, at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, the Yankees won a much needed game over the Blue Jays, 7-1. Alonso Soriano, who has helped the Yankees win many games with his bat since his return to the team on July 26, recorded his MLB leading sixth multi-homer game of the season. Andy Pettitte also shutout the Blue Jays over seven innings pitched. Effective pitching combined with four homers in a game will almost always lead to a win.

The first inning was dramatic as the Yankees scored half of the runs that they would score in the game. Brett Gardner led off the game with a double off of the wall. He took third on a wild pitch and would score on Derek Jeter’s first of two singles up the middle. The Yankees received a big scare as J.A. Happ hit Robinson Cano on his left hand in the next at-bat. Happ (5.46 ERA) has made a habit of hitting members of the Yankees this season as he was the one who hit Curtis Granderson during the opening game of spring training.

It was later revealed that Cano’s injury was luckily only a contusion and he is now day-to-day after his x-ray was negative. The Yankees would have had to effectively say good-bye to their playoff hopes if his hand was broken. Cano has been an offensive bright spot this season in the midst of many injuries. He leads the team in batting average (.305), RBIs (85) and homers (24). Soriano has hit 26 homers this season but he played for the Chicago Cubs before the end of June.

Continuing with the offensive outburst that was the first inning, after Cano’s hit by pitch put runners on first and second, Soriano hit a deep homer to the second deck in the Rogers Centre. This three-run blast foreshadowed what was to come for Soriano later in the game.

In the third inning, to give the Yankees the 5-0 lead, Soriano hit a solo homer that bounced off the wall in left. That was his 400th homer of his career. If he continues at the rate his is on right now, for another three or four years, he might be put in the Hall of Fame. To go along with his 400 homers, he has 285 steals, 461 doubles and 1,119 RBIs. Soriano now has an outstanding 11 homers in 30 games with the Yankees this season.

Mark Reynolds, for the team’s third homer of the evening, hit a solo shot to the Blue Jays bullpen in the sixth inning. Reynolds has done well so far in his role as a platoon first basemen with Lyle Overbay. After Eduardo Nunez was taken out of the game in the ninth, Reynolds even ended the game defensively by converting the double play from second, which showed his versatility.

Alex Rodriguez would easily hit his 651st homer of his career in the 7th inning to put him 10 away from passing Willie Mays on the all-time homer list and being awarded an extra $6 million. He will surely not hit 10 more this season, and it is not known if/when he will given his upcoming suspension.

Pettitte won his 16th career game in Toronto at the Rogers Centre/Skydome giving him his 10th (10-9) win of the season in the process. Pettitte has struggled at times this season (4.05 ERA), but in his last three starts he has only allowed one earned run in a combined 19.2 innings pitched. He was able to locate all of his pitches last night, which helped him only allow five hits and two walks. Adam Warren, who along with the more likely David Huff, is a candidate to replace the ineffective Phil Hughes in the rotation, allowed a run in two innings of relief while pitching out of damage.

The Yankees desperately needed that win since they can now win the series and since Oakland won they would have fallen even further back in the Wild-Card race. The Bronx Bombers currently have a 4.5 game deficit with 30 games left to play. They will have every opportunity to make up the ground since 13 of their final 30 games are against last place teams, including tonight against Toronto.