Today’s roster move wasn’t necessarily the end of the Eduardo Nunez saga, but it’s likely the end of his Yankees career. Being designated for assignment was enough to get Nunez off the 40-man roster and open the necessary spot for Yangervis Solarte, but the Yankees still have 10 days to make a final move with Nunez.
“He possesses a great deal of talent and you can dream on him — and we have — as a potential everyday shortstop in the big leagues,” Brian Cashman said. “All that talent is still there, and I think his versatility does provide for a great deal of choices as a player on a Major League roster. We’ll see what develops in the next 10 days. Obviously when we had him coming up through the system, he was someone that projected to be utilized as an everyday player in the big leagues. At 27 years old, that doesn’t mean that can’t still happen.
“We had that hope that maybe he could develop into something like that as a choice, and at worst a player that the manager in the Major Leagues could utilize different ways. Right now, we’re going to go a different direction and we wish him the best as we look through the next 10 days of making some decisions.”
Cashman acknowledged that the Yankees came into spring training believing Nunez had a very good chance of making the big league roster, and Joe Girardi said that was sent to play shortstop in Triple-A a couple of years ago because the Yankees thought he could be an eventual replacement for Derek Jeter. So where did it all go wrong?
Defensive inconsistency obviously stands out. It was probably the biggest question hanging over Nunez in recent years. Then the Yankees traded for a subsequently re-signed Brendan Ryan, giving them a proven defensive option at shortstop. Then Dean Anna came over in a small trade from San Diego and played well this spring. Then a near complete unknown named Yangervis Solarte had a terrific, impossible-to-overlook spring. Both Cashman and Girardi said that, after Ryan was hurt, the team decided that Anna would be their backup shortstop. They looked at the second utility spot as primarily a second base and third base job, and they felt that Solarte was a better option at those two positions.
“We came to spring training fully expecting Eduardo Nunez to be one of our options at the big-league level,” Cashman said. “But then the other guys said, ‘Hey, look at me.’ … If the configuration of the everyday players were a little different, you might have come up with a different answer. If the left side of the infield didn’t have an Anna, Nuney might be here. There’s a number of different dominoes that led us to this. But hey it’s opening day. Enough on Eduardo.”
With that, it was clear that Cashman was ready to move on. There might be more Nunez news coming in the next few days, but for the time being, it seems clear that his time with the Yankees has come to an end.
· The Yankees officially put Brendan Ryan on the disabled list with a “cervical spine nerve injury,” which sounds pretty awful, but it’s basically what we’d heard from Ryan during spring training when he said something was pinching a nerve along his spine. The move was retroactive to March 22, which is as far back as the Yankees were allowed to make such a DL assignment coming out of spring training.
· Girardi said he wasn’t sure what exactly Ryan did today in Tampa, but Girardi did say that he didn’t expect Ryan to begin baseball activities today. It’s probably going to be a while.
· The guys how made their first Opening Day roster will be wearing the following numbers: Yangervis Solarte has No. 26, Dean Anna has No. 45, Dellin Betances has No. 68 and Vidal Nuno has No. 57. Anna originally said he was going with No. 39 — a kind of not to the No. 93 he wore this spring — but apparently he changed his mind.
· Only saw Jacoby Ellsbury for about seven seconds in the clubhouse and he said he was on his way to get some sort of typical treatment on his calf (pretty routine for a guy in a situation like this to continue getting treatment even after he’s playing). “I feel pretty good about where he’s at,” Girardi said. “He has not talked about it. He was able to play the games when we needed him to play, so I feel pretty good about it.”
· Girardi indicated that he plans to get Ichiro Suzuki in the lineup sometime in the next few days. “I think it’s really important,” he said. “I think some of the age of our outfielders and wanting to keep them fresh, we could have a pretty good rotation here. I think it’s really important.”
· Girardi on Opening Day: “I think we’re all excited. I thought we had a very good spring training, and then you leave spring training on Saturday and you have to wait a couple of days to play. I think there’s anticipation. Obviously the games in spring training mean something in a sense where guys are trying to get ready, and guys are trying to make the team, but this is where it really counts. Guys look forward to that competition.”
Associated Press photos