Now Commenting On:

Improved Nunez carves out spot in lineup

Improved Nunez carves out spot in lineup

Improved Nunez carves out spot in lineup
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter could return to shortstop as early as Tuesday, but Eduardo Nunez might find himself in the lineup regardless of the captain's status.

The 25-year-old Nunez started at shortstop against the Rays on Sunday for the fourth consecutive game while Jeter nurses a bone bruise in his left ankle, but manager Joe Girardi said Nunez's play warrants consideration for designated hitter against left-handed starters.

Nunez is 5-for-14 with a double, a homer and a stolen base since rejoining the Yankees as a September callup. Nunez has a hit in each of his past three starts in place of Jeter at shortstop, and he homered in Saturday's 5-3 win a night after making a costly error in the ninth inning of a loss.

"I was first excited he was back in the lineup," Alex Rodriguez said after Nunez went 1-for-3 on Saturday. "Enormous, enormous ability, very high ceiling for us. You can see the way he handles at-bats, key at-bats. He can turn around on 100 miles per hour and handles offspeed very well, and that's a rare combination. He showed a lot with the way he played today, and it was a good step for him."

Girardi gave Nunez a pep talk prior to Saturday's game, reminding him to focus on the positive plays he made at shortstop, not the one error.

Entering Sunday, Nunez had made five errors this season -- four in his earlier stint with the club, when he appeared at shortstop, second base, third base and both corner outfield spots. The Yankees made an effort to allow Nunez to concentrate solely on shortstop after sending him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and they are pleased enough with his development that Girardi said he would not consider lifting Nunez late in games for a defensive substitute.

"He's made some really good plays here, some balls that aren't easy in the hole, and it shows his strong arm and his range," Girardi said. "There's balls he's going to get to that maybe some of the other guys won't."

Boys and Girls Club of America

©2014 MLBAM, LP. All rights reserved.

The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions. Use of the Website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (updated May 24, 2013).

View MLB.com in English | En Español