Brian Heyman here for Chad again for this series finale against the Rays. Eduardo Nunez is starting at short in place of Derek Jeter for the fourth straight game. Jeter is the DH for the fourth straight game due to the bone bruise in his left ankle.
Nunez has played in 28 games over his two stints here this season, and he has made five errors. His defense got him sent to the minors in May. His error on Friday night, when he let an easy grounder scoot under his glove, allowed Tampa Bay to score an insurance run in the ninth. But Joe Girardi indicated he has been happy with Nunez’s defense at short while filling in for Jeter. Nunez has been back since Sept. 1.
“He played well down there (in Triple-A),” Girardi said. “He’s made some really good plays here, some balls that aren’t easy in the hole, and he shows his strong arm and his range. There are balls that he’s going to get to that maybe some other guys won’t.”
Girardi said he hasn’t considered lifting Nunez for defense late in games with a lead. That could dent his confidence.
“I think that plays some role,” Girardi said, “but I think it’s the way he’s playing that’s more important.”
Girardi thinks Nunez is more comfortable at short than earlier in the season when he was in more of a utility role.
“He was all over the place,” Girardi said. “We had him at second, short, third, left. I don’t know if we put him in right. (They did, although he didn’t start out there). We asked him to do a lot of different things. For a young kid that’s only really played one position for most of his career, I think it’s easier.”
Girardi also said Nunez may be considered for some DH work when Jeter is ready to return to the field. Nunez, who’s batting .308 in 65 at-bats, homered off James Shields in Saturday’s 5-3 win.
Hiroki Kuroda will start today. The Yankees are averaging just four runs a game in his 29 starts, the third-lowest run support average in the AL for pitchers with at least 29 starts. But it’s been worse over his last 10 outings. They have averaged only 3.07 runs for him. So Kuroda should be better than 13-10 with a 3.17 ERA.