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Solarte sent to Triple-A; Yankees promote Zelous Wheeler

Yangervis Solarte's struggles at the plate have cost him his roster spot.
Yangervis Solarte's struggles at the plate have cost him his roster spot.
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Yangervis Solarte, the fan favorite who won the final roster spot in Spring Training due to his hot bat, was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday.

Solarte began the season on a tear at the plate, and continued his hot hitting through the first week of June, leading many fans to believe the Yankees had found a late-blooming diamond in the rough. However, he has hit just .073 (3-for-41) over his last 14 games, prompting the Yankees to search for another answer in a platoon with Kelly Johnson at third base.

The Yankees are hoping that the answer is utility infielder Zelous Wheeler. Wheeler, 27, entered the season as a career minor-leaguer before being pulled in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s Triple-A game and the subsequent report by beat writer Donnie Collins that the move was a promotion, not an injury as initially believed. A former 19th-round draft choice of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2007 draft, Wheeler has spent eight seasons in the minor leagues with three different organizations.

With Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, Wheeler has primarily played third base and shortstop while hitting .299 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. Perhaps even more impressively, Wheeler has hit .348 (24-for-69) and slugged .522 against left-handed pitching in the International League.

Needing to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated infielder Dean Anna for assignment. Anna has been on Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s disabled list and had hit just .192 in 36 games with the Triple-A affiliate.