Nunez gets back into the mix
An injured infielder returned to the Yankees Saturday. Relax; it was not Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, although they may not be far behind. Eduardo Nunez was back in the lineup at shortstop and got into the swing of things with contributions in three rallies against Orioles righthander Chris Tillman.
Nunez had a sacrifice fly to drive in one of the runs in the Yankees’ two-run second inning as they clawed back from a 3-0 deficit to make it a one-run game. After Baltimore pushed its lead to 4-2, Nunez got a fifth-inning attack started with a single to right field and eventually scored the first run that inning on a single behind second base by Ichiro Suzuki. Chris Stewart, who had singled after Nunez, scored the tying run on a single to left by Robinson Cano.
The Yankees took the lead for the first time in the sixth inning on Nunez’s second hit of the game. It scored Lyle Overbay, who led off the inning with his third single of the game and was advanced to second on a two-strike sacrifice by Luis Cruz.
Nunez was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list. He had been out for two months with a left oblique strain. Nunez said that when he first got hurt he did not think it would take this long for him to recover.
“Maybe one week,” he said. “But I had big setbacks twice. It was tough, but now I’m here again.”
Manager Joe Girardi did not hesitate to return him to the lineup but said he would be careful with Nunez.
“Don’t be surprised if I give him a day off here and there over the next week or so just because he is probably not equipped to play the next nine days in a row,” Girardi said. “He’s probably not in that type of shape yet. I have to be smart about it.”
To make room on the 25-man roster for Nunez, the Yankees place pitcher David Phelps on the 15-day DL because of a right forearm strain. Girardi said the righthander reported soreness after his winning decision Thursday at Minneapolis. Phelps’ next scheduled start Wednesday against the Royals at Yankee Stadium will now be made by Ivan Nova, who pitched a complete-game victory Friday night.
As for Jeter and Rodriguez, both were scheduled to continue injury-rehabilitation assignments in the minors. Jeter was to play Saturday night for Triple A Scranton against Lehigh Valley. Pitcher Michael Pineda, also on injury-rehab, was to start for Scranton. A-Rod was to play for Class A Tampa against the Marlins’ Florida State League affiliate at Viera, Fla.