NEW YORK -- The Yankees fielded an unusual defensive alignment for the top of the ninth inning on Saturday, as Robinson Cano manned shortstop and Francisco Cervelli played second base in a 5-3 loss to the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
It was Cano's first appearance at a position other than second base after 1,224 games in the Major Leagues, and Cervelli's second career appearance at second base, having played there on July 31, 2011 against Baltimore.
"I think it's weird to see myself at second," Cervelli said. "Cano, I think he can play every position in the infield. You know how it is. He makes everything look easy."
The Yankees were in a tight spot after manager Joe Girardi used Brennan Boesch as a pinch-hitter for shortstop Jayson Nix in the eighth inning. Eduardo Nunez was unavailable to play defense, having suffered a bruised right wrist in Friday's game when he was hit by a pitch.
That left Cano, who last played shortstop regularly in 2002 for Class A Greensboro, as Girardi's best option. Cano said that the last time he took ground balls at shortstop was in Spring Training with Derek Jeter and Nunez.
"I was ready, because at least I take ground balls there with Nuney and Jeter," Cano said. "We always joke around to see who's going to make more errors. If they hit me a ground ball, I was ready."
Girardi hinted at the possible alignment last week in Detroit, when Nunez was sidelined with a bruised right biceps, and proved on Saturday that he was serious.
"I wasn't making it up before," Girardi said. "I knew exactly what I was going to do if we got in that situation."
Chris Stewart strapped on his gear and replaced Cervelli behind the plate, but as it turned out, neither Cano nor Cervelli would have a chance, as Yanks hurler David Robertson induced two outfield fly balls and a strikeout.
Girardi said that being a little short handed at shortstop wasn't as tough of a spot for him as some might think.
"I know what we have," Girardi said. "I've seen Cervy take enough ground balls in the days that I've seen him that he's actually pretty smooth. If you ever watch him do it, he's pretty smooth at it."
Cervelli has also appeared in a big league game at third base, and said he wouldn't hesitate to use his chest to block a ball on the infield, but said he prefers to catch. He said that he could have turned a double play if necessary, though.
"Oh yeah, I can do it," Cervelli said. "I take ground balls all the time. You've got to take it easy and try to do everything slow. When you rush is when you do bad things."