TAMPA, Fla. – Yangervis Solarte has made the Opening Day roster, while Eduardo Nunez has been optioned to Triple-A, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced after the club’s final spring game was rained out on Saturday. He will fly to Houston and join the team on Sunday.
Girardi noted that they chose Solarte because they see the role as primarily a backup at second and third, with Dean Anna backing up at shortstop. Though Girardi did not mention the fact, Solarte is also able to play the outfield corners, and showed a much better glove in the field than Nunez.
“He’s played a little bit more second and third than Nuney has in his career,” Girardi said. “We thought he won the spot in spring training. We talk about open competitions for those spots, for bullpen spots, for the fifth starting spot, and we felt that guys won competitions here.”
Solarte, 26, hit .429 (18-for-42) in 24 games this spring, with two home runs and nine runs batted in. By contrast, Nunez hit just .265 (13-for-49) with one home run and four runs batted in. As a switch hitter, Solarte also provides the Yankees with a legitimate bat from both sides of the plate.
“It’s been nine years that I’ve been waiting for this,” Solarte said when talking with reporters on Saturday. “I have goosebumps still.”
The Yankees will have to make a 40-man roster move to accommodate Solarte, but it does not have to be made until Tuesday. It seems likely that Nunez could wind up being traded, or recently demoted relief pitcher Preston Claiborne could be designated for assignment to clear a spot.