Eduardo Nunez’s role with the Yankees has become increasingly important, especially now since Derek Jeter’s surgically repaired ankle is causing him to miss some spring training games. Yesterday, manager Joe Girardi wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Jeter would be the Opening Day DH. Today, GM Brian Cashman wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a DL stint, according to YES Network’s Jack Curry.
The Yankees still need to see how Jeter responds to the cortisone shot he received in his ankle, and have 12 days to make a decision. However, Nunez would most likely be the Opening Day option should Jeter land on the shelf.
This probably won’t be the first time the Captain needs to sit because of ankle soreness. Therefore, Nunez would have to be ready to fill in and play shortstop. We all know he can hit – he was basically the only guy to touch Tigers’ pitching in the playoffs last year. The real question is his defense. Nunez worked over the winter and has shown improvement this spring, but once the big lights are on him, it’s a whole different ballgame.
In three seasons, Nunez has a career .932 fielding pct. He’s committed 28 errors in 167 total games, hardly Gold Glove caliber. The Yankees have been adamant about keeping him at one spot instead of being a utility guy. The hope is is that Nunez can settle in and focus on one position, limiting his errors along the way, especially since the Yankees knew that coming into the season Jeter would be recovering from a severe injury.
With early ankle trouble for Jeter, Girardi will likely rest him more throughout the season than years past. Eduardo Nunez needs to be ready to step up. He will likely see an increase in games started over last year (13).