After committing two errors at third Thursday night, Eduardo Nunez was demoted today when the club activated Eric Chavez.
Nunez had played in a utility role with the Yankees since he was promoted in 2010, but had committed 25 errors in just 155 games. That included 20 in 106 games in 2011. He had four errors this season, including two at third base on Thursday night against Tampa.
The utility role was a major adjustment for the 24-year old, who had played 600 of his 636 minor league games at shortstop.
“We asked (Nunez) to do some things you normally ask a more veteran player to do — to play third, short, second, left, right,” Joe Girardi said. “For the best interest of him and us moving forward, we thought it was probably more important that he goes down and plays shortstop six days a week and maybe second a day a week. Getting back to playing every day.”
Nunez was not available in the clubhouse prior to tonight’s game. Derek Jeter said he spoke to him and admitted Nunez was shocked at being sent down.
“He needs to play,” Jeter said. “We’d love for him to be here, but he needs to play. That’s the best thing for him.”
Girardi said Nunez would focus primarily on playing shortstop at Scranton. He could also occasionally play second.
One of Nunez’s closest friends on the team was Robinson Cano. He had yet to speak to Nunez, but didn’t believe the defensive struggles had depleted his confidence.
“I haven’t talked to him, but that’s a part of the game,” Cano said. “Guys are going to make errors. Hopefully, this is going to get him stronger and make him a better player.”
Nunez hit .296 with no home runs and five RBI so far this season, but had a .356 on-base percentage and stolen six bases.
Despite Jeter being under contract through 2014, Girardi said this decision does not mean Nunez was blocked for the foreseeable future.
“He’ll be back,” Girardi said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Here’s a defensive breakdown of Nunez by position since he joined the Yankees in 2010:
SS — 66 games, 47 starts, 15 errors
3B — 63 games, 48 starts, 9 errors
2B — 18 games, 10 starts, 1 error
LF — 4 games, 3 starts, 0 errors
RF — 4 games, 2 starts, 0 errors
I’ll have audio from Girardi with much more on Nunez in the pregame notes.