"I feel excited," Nunez said. "I do my best every day, going to the field, giving 100 percent. I want to see people go to the game, enjoy the game, like they enjoy when Jeter plays. And I want them to enjoy when I play, too."
Nunez repeatedly stated just how bad he felt for Jeter, whose strained right calf will keep him off the field until at least June 29.
But the 23-year-old utility infielder knew the minute he saw Jeter limping off the field in the fifth inning Monday that the burden fell to him.
"The first emotion, I felt bad, for him and for the team, because that is the captain, a great player," Nunez said. "But for myself, I felt ready to play. I don't feel nothing. Go play, go do my job. That's my job, to help the team to win."
Nunez has hit .214 in 32 games entering Tuesday, when he batted eighth against the Rangers. But he has made just 13 starts, including seven at short.
Nunez has committed five errors in 12 games at short.
"I think he's done all right," manager Joe Girardi said. "In the beginning he had some throws, he was moving all over the diamond. Not playing for a month, I think, affected him. I think he's played pretty well for us. I think he's hit the ball a lot harder than what the offensive numbers indicate. He's made some hard outs for us. I've been pleased with it."