Nuno has good chance to break camp with Yanks

Nuno has good chance to break camp with Yanks

TAMPA, Fla. -- Vidal Nuno "has opened everyone's eyes" and is making a run at breaking camp with the Yankees, according to general manager Brian Cashman.

A 25-year-old left-hander who was originally property of the Indians and signed with the Yankees after pitching in independent ball, Nuno has compiled an 0.68 ERA in 13 1/3 Grapefruit League innings and may wind up being rewarded with a spot in New York's bullpen.

"I just go day by day, wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, look in the mirror and say, 'You've got to work hard,'" Nuno said. "I don't play the GM, I don't think like that. It's just having another day on the baseball field and putting on the uniform."

Nuno's statistics do not include what he has also done against the Yankees this spring; with the Dominican Republic short on pitching for a March 6 exhibition at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Nuno was borrowed by manager Tony Pena's club and spun four hitless innings in a spot start.

For his participation, Nuno -- who grew up near San Diego and is of Mexican descent -- was rewarded with a souvenir Dominican Republic T-shirt and cap. It was a neat footnote in what has been a breakout spring for the hurler, who pitched last year at Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton.

"I don't think or overthrow, and I hit my spots," Nuno said. "That's one key I preach to myself, just hit location and make the ball dance, and you'll get people out."

A 48th-round pick of the Indians in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft who received a non-roster invitation to camp this spring, Nuno could make the club because left-hander Clay Rapada will start the year on the disabled list while he builds back up from a bout with left shoulder bursitis. Nuno said that he has expanded his repertoire to include two fastballs, a curveball, slider, changeup and cutter.

"I don't throw hard, so I need to make the ball dance a little bit," Nuno said.

After being cut loose by Cleveland after two seasons in its farm system, Nuno made six starts for the Washington Wild Things in 2011 before having his contract purchased by the Yankees.

He was a combined 10-6 with a 2.54 ERA in 31 games (21 starts) last year between Tampa and Trenton, and said that his decision to play independent ball ultimately came down to not being ready to give up on his dreams.

"It was just another step of looking in the mirror, telling me I had to play baseball," Nuno said. "Do I want to play baseball, or [would] I have to find a job?

"It was another shot, so I had to see if I pursued it and see if anybody picked me up, and sure enough, God blessed me that the Yankees picked me up and gave me a shot."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.