TORONTO -- The Yankees removed Eduardo Nunez in the sixth inning of Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays, surrendering their designated hitter and sparking concern that the backup infielder had suffered an injury.
Not so, said manager Joe Girardi, who noted after the game that the reasons for removing Nunez were "just defensive." Derek Jeter replaced Nunez at shortstop after serving just five innings in the DH role.
Nunez was surprised by the decision, saying, "A little bit; you know, it's early. But it doesn't matter what I think."
Girardi said that he could make the move because he knew starter Andy Pettitte would be out of the game by the next time Nunez's No. 8 spot came up, with a full bench of hitters available to replace the pitcher.
Nunez singled in his first at-bat on Saturday and hit the ball hard in his last two plate appearances, lining out to second base and flying out to center field.
"I have to do what I feel is best," Girardi said.
The move is notable considering utility man Jayson Nix traveled to New York on Saturday for an MRI exam on his sore left hip flexor, leaving Nunez as the primary backup at shortstop and second base. However, the Yankees still have concerns about Nunez's glove; he has committed 28 errors in 165 big league games, including eight this season.