Now that Mark Teixeira is off the disabled list, the Yankees have six infielders, only one of whom is a clear backup.
Teixeira is the everyday guy at first base, Derek Jeter is the starter (and Dean Anna the backup) at shortstop, and that leaves Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts and Yangervis Solarte to split the playing time between second and third.
“All these guys are going to play,” Girardi said. “I think it’s important that they all play, that you keep them all fresh, that you make sure that they’re all involved in case you do have an injury or something. One year, because of rainouts and stuff, Eduardo Nunez didn’t play for the first three weeks. When he got in there and we needed him, he was really rusty. I don’t think you can afford to do that. And with the age on our team, I think that everyone is going to play.”
This is exactly the infield the Yankees had out of spring training, but several things have changed the dynamic. Johnson has been one of the team’s more productive hitters (though he slowed down in the past week), Roberts has struggled and missed some time with a back injury (though he just had a three-hit game on Thursday), and Solarte has emerged as one of the most surprising players in the majors this season (though he’s hitless in his last 10 at-bats).
The Yankees have given no indication that Solarte has surpassed either Johnson or Roberts on the depth chart, but they’ve certainly given no indication that Solarte is going back to being strictly a bench player. Facing a lefty on Sunday, Girardi went with Solarte at third and Roberts at second, leaving left-handed hitter Johnson on the bench. Bt Girardi said he had not yet decided how he would setup the lineup against a right-hander. Seems safe to assume Johnson will play against righties, the question is whether Roberts or Solarte will be the other infielder.
“I’ll worry about that when I have to worry about it,” Girardi said. “… There will be plenty of opportunities to play everybody.”
Associated Press photo