TAMPA, Fla. -- Yangervis Solarte found a seat inside his clubhouse locker and pointed to the goosebumps running up and down his arms. The infielder was just told that he had made the Yankees' Opening Day roster, and he still was in a state of disbelief.
"This is a dream come true, outside of having my family and my children," Solarte said through an interpreter. "This is a new beginning. I have great happiness. Now I have to work hard. This is when the work actually starts."
Solarte, 26, beat out Eduardo Nunez for the final backup infield spot on the roster, with Nunez optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
A non-roster invitee, Solarte was a standout this spring, batting .429 (18-for-42) with two homers and nine RBIs, leading the club in hits and tied for the lead in RBIs. He said that he did not know what to think coming into the final day of the spring.
"I basically was just focused on how happy I was with everything, the way that I performed this Spring Training and being here," Solarte said. "Every day I kept moving forward, so I just stayed positive."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that it had been a difficult decision, but the switch-hitting Solarte has more career experience playing second and third base, which gave him an advantage.
"We thought he won the spot in Spring Training," Girardi said. "I thought defensively he played well. I thought he gave you good at-bats every time he went up there, whether it was from the left side or the right side."
Nunez left the clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field without speaking to reporters. Girardi said that Nunez was "very disappointed and upset" by the decision, and that it had been "extremely difficult" to tell Nunez he had not made the team.
"We all love Nuney," Girardi said. "There's something about his character and who he is that just makes him a guy that everyone roots for and wants to see him do well and have a great career. But it's difficult. The past two days have been really difficult on me."
With Brendan Ryan beginning the year on the disabled list, Girardi said that he envisions using Dean Anna as the primary backup to shortstop Derek Jeter, while using Solarte more at second and third base.
The Yankees need to make a 40-man roster move before Tuesday to accommodate Solarte; that decision has not yet been announced.