Of course it happened in his first start, on the first ball hit his way. Eduardo Nunez, who managed to lead the Yankees in errors despite being a parttime player last season, got his first start of the year on Satuday and botched a ball on his very first chance.
“I thought he got over it last year, but I think when it happens the first game he plays people think he’s right back in it,” manager Joe Girardi said. “None of us really know. I personally don’t think he’s right back in it. Time will tell.”
Nunez is back in the lineup today, this time playing third base. The Yankees are fully expecting Nunez to play a significant role this season, giving Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter regular rest on the left side of the infield. And Nunez is fully expecting to make a better impression the second time around.
This winter, Nunez worked out with Robinson Cano and Albert Pujols in the Dominican Republic.
“We had a hitting coach,” Nunez siad. “We had somebody for the gym, training. We had somebody for running. But we don’t have anybody for defense because (Cano)’s a Gold Glove. But I need defense. We talked and we called the guy and he came to help me.”
At Camp Cano, Nunez had an infield instructor hired specifically to help Nunez with his defense.
“He helped me a thousand percent, seriously,” Nunez said. “So confident. My throw is so quiet, a quality throw. … I have to prove, show (Girardi) I can play defense too. I don’t want him to take me out in the bottom of the eighth, bottom of the seventh, (saying) ‘Hey Nuney, you can’t play defense.’”
The Yankees believe Nunez can handle the infield, and they’re going to give him every chance to prove it.
“For this team to be successful, I think he has to play well,” Girardi said.
• After a rocky spring training, Ivan Nova gets his first start of the year, trying to stop this season-opening three-game losing streak. “My biggest concern the first time through the rotation is emotions because of that anxiety to get off to a good start,” Girardi said. “And now he’s been watching for three days and hasn’t had a chance to play.”
• Nova has said he was happy with his bullpen leading into this start. “I try not to make too much out of spring training,” Girardi said. “You watch how guys are throwing the ball. At times he threw the ball very, and there were times he struggled. Hopefully that bullpen carries over into today and he’ll be good for us.”
• Andy Pettitte is scheduled to pitch two innings for High-A Tampa tonight. It will be his first start since signing a minor league deal last month.
• Girardi is giving Rodriguez a DH day in only the fourth game of the season, but that’s nothing new. He’s already rested Jeter and Nick Swisher this season. “To get three days on turf from Alex is really good, because that’s not something we always do a lot,” Girardi said. “So I feel good about where Alex is.”
• Girardi wouldn’t get into specific, but he has addressed the team about this 0-3 start. He said he did not mention the 1998 team that went 0-3 and went on to be one of the most successful teams of all time. “I didn’t talk about that because a lot of guys weren’t here in ’98,” Girardi said. “But if you’re a baseball player and you’ve never been through a three-game losing streak, God bless you. You were really on some good teams for a long, long time. I think we had three-game losing streaks in tee-ball for trying out loud. You just try to put things in perspective.”
• Girardi said he hasn’t heard from Hal Steinbrenner following the season opening sweep against the Rays. “We talk a lot during home stands when he’s there,” Girardi said. “This is par for the course.”
Associated Press photos