Eduardo Nunez said his sore rib cage feels “much better” today, but he’s still not cleared to do so much as tee and toss. He won’t pick up a bat today. Won’t throw a baseball. Won’t play catch.
Clearly Nunez is unavailable tonight, and Joe Girardi certainly sounded as if he’s not planning to have Nunez tomorrow. So how many days can the Yankees go without a backup infielder, especially in a National League park?
“That’s a good question,” Girardi said. “You kind of go day-by-day and see. If you really feel that it’s going to be close to 15 days, then I think you make a move. We’re on Day 2 here, so I think it’s too early. But we’ll see.”
The Yankees were in a similar situation earlier this year when Kevin Youkilis was hurt but not yet on the disabled list. They really have no backup, and the only extra infielder on the 40-man is Corban Joseph, who was just sent down and couldn’t be called up yet without Nunez going on the DL.
If you consider Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter the first stringers, and Youkilis and Nunez the backup plans, then the Yankees are officially on their third string for the left side of the infield.
“It makes it more difficult when backups are replacing backups because your depth is really tested,” Girardi said. “Sometimes, kids aren’t ready or you might not have someone to really step up into that position, so that makes it more difficult. I think when you start getting two or three deep, it’s going to be a test in most places.”
• Ivan Nova is going to pitch in an extended spring training game tomorrow, which puts him on schedule to start one of the double header games on Monday. Girardi acknowledged that it’s a legitimate possibility that the Yankees will activate Nova to start that day, even after only an extended spring training start. “As long as he feels good and throws the ball well (it’s possible),” Girardi said.
• There’s no chance of Travis Hafner playing first base during this series. He’ll basically get one chance to pinch hit each night.
• Girardi on his reports from Tampa (don’t expect many details here): “I think Grandy had five at-bats. Tex hit in the cage again. Nova is going to start a game tomorrow. Cervi is really not doing anything and Jeet’s not doing anything. I didn’t hear what Alex did today. Probably the same thing as yesterday.”
• Because the Yankees are facing a left-hander, Girardi wanted to give one of his left-handed outfielder a day off. That’s why Brett Gardner isn’t starting. “I was going to give one of my lefties a day off today, and I chose to do Gardy,” Girardi said. “Ich has been swinging well. You look at the numbers – and I know it’s a small sample – but his numbers against lefties are as good as anyone on our team. … I want to keep Francisco in the mix. He hit a home run the other day and walked off a lefty. We’re in a long stretch here too. I think we’re at 17 days in a row, so someone is going to get a day off here and there.”
• Chris Nelson said he doesn’t expect it to be weird to play against his former team in his former ballpark. Actually, his numbers are Coors Field have been terrific, so maybe this is a good series to lean on him.
• Girardi on Coors Field: “It has changed since I played here, since they put the ball in a humidor. I remember a lot of 11-10 games when I played here, but I don’t necessarily see that as much anymore. You can look at the Rockies, and they really swing the bats, and their ERA is the same at home as it is on the road. There’s really not much difference, which tells you that the ballpark plays different than it used to.”
Associated Press photos