TAMPA, Fla. -- After five seasons in the Minors and a brief stint playing independent ball, Yankees left-hander Vidal Nuno, a former 48th-round Draft pick, proved last year that he was capable of pitching in the Majors.
In 20 innings over five games, including three starts, Nuno put together a 2.25 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. But just when things seemed to be going his way, he was sent back to Triple-A and suffered a season-ending groin injury.
"It's part of the game. The injury occurs. We'll bounce back and try to do that in Spring Training and during the season," Nuno said Tuesday at the Yanks' Minor League complex, where he's been working out and throwing bullpen sessions. "It told me that I can be at that level and pitch and everything. It gave me that motivation for the offseason to work out twice as hard."
The 26-year-old lefty said his groin felt 100 percent during the Arizona Fall League season, when he went 0-1 with a 3.20 ERA in 19 2/3 innings over five games, including four starts. Now, he's back in the mix for the fifth spot in the Yankees' rotation, set to battle it out this spring with Michael Pineda, Adam Warren and David Phelps.
"It's awesome. It's a big family, so pretty much just help each other, go out there every day and enjoy each other and have fun," Nuno said, declining to handicap his chances at winning the job. "Go out there and have fun. If it plays out, it plays out."