It’s been just four games since Eduardo Nunez stepped into the Yankees lineup as an everyday player. He’s had five hits — one of them a home run — two walks, two stolen bases and he has yet to strikeout. Some of the defensive concerns of mid-April seem to have gone away.
“He really hasn’t surprised me, because he’s really done what he’s done as a part-time player,” Joe Girardi said. “His at-bats have been good, and he’s hit the ball hard… He works hard. That’s one thing this kid does. He’s worked hard all year long and it’s paid off.”
This spring, the Yankees took a shot on Nunez’s potential over Ramiro Pena’s experience. They knew Pena could do the job defensively without providing much offense. They believed Nunez could be a significant offensive upgrade without becoming a defensive liability. The offense has generally been there — he’s lacked consistency, but that’s to be expected from sporadic playing time — but the defense was a problem early, especially with his throws that seemed to go anywhere but the first baseman’s glove.
“I think it was the moving around, not playing for basically a month, I think that had something to do with it,” Girardi said. “Playing at second, learning how to throw from different arm angles. For the most part, he had played short his whole career, and from second base, he was down a little bit with his arm angle, because that’s how second basemen throw. Third base, you get on top of it a little more. It was just the adjustment.”
Now Nunez is back at his natural position, and he’ll be there until basically the end of the month. So far, so good.
• Girardi said he also remains committed to Andruw Jones as a lineup regular against left-handers. Yesterday was an exception because Doug Davis had struggled against left-handed hitters, but for the most part, Jones’ role has not changed. “Jonesy is going to play, that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “I made a decision yesterday to play Gardy, we have one more lefty on this trip and I can’t tell you exactly what I’m going to do.”
• Girardi said he still hasn’t talked to Dante Bichette Jr., but he was happy to hear that the signing is official. “I think he’s going to be a good player,” Girardi said. “He’s learned a lot from his father, the young man has got talent, he’s a student of the game like his father was. That’s the reason we drafted him.”
• Girardi hasn’t spoken to Joba Chamberlain since the night before Chamberlain’s surgery. Girardi’s only heard that the surgery went well.
• Since we’re in Chicago and the Yankees are playing the Cubs, Girardi was of course asked about the possibility of trading for Carlos Zambrano. Girardi said he really couldn’t say much on the topic, but he did speak a little bit about the idea that Zambrano’s over-the-top personality might not work well in New York. “I don’t think you really know until you actually get there,” he said. “There are guys that you anticipate will be able to handle it and it can be tough at the beginning, and vice versa, where you think they can’t handle it and they come in and thrive. It’s a tough thing to predict.”
Kosuke Fukudome RF
Starlin Castro SS
Blake DeWitt 2B
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
Reed Johnson CF
Alfonso Soriano LF
Geovany Soto C
Ryan Dempster RHP
Associated Press photo