Eduardo Nunez designated for assignment by Yankees

The Yankees have designated Eduardo Nunez for assignment, and that’s the 40-man move to add Yangervis Solarte to their roster. Nunez will now be exposed to waivers, and a trade could very well be in the works.

Here’s Brian Cashman’s explanation of the move:

“Tough call, but he’s the way I went. It’s just a tough call. We thought through a lot of other different permutations but I think it’s best for right now to give him a new fresh start and we’ll see where that takes him. We’re allotted 10 days to make an assignment of his contract, so stay tuned.”

In response to a follow-up question about what the Yankees did not see from Nunez this spring, Cashman said:

“In this most recent spring, he had a good spring but we had other guys that had better ones. He possesses a great deal of talent and you can dream on him – and we have – as a potential every day shortstop in the big leagues. All that talent is still there and I think his versatility does provide for a great deal of choices as a player on a Major League roster. We’ll see what develops in the next 10 days.

“Obviously when we had him coming up through the system, he was someone that projected to be utilized as an everyday player in the big leagues. At 27 years old, that doesn’t mean that can’t still happen. We had that hope that maybe he could develop into something like that as a choice, and at worst a player that the manager in the Major Leagues could utilize different ways. Right now, we’re going to go a different direction and we wish him the best as we look through the next 10 days of making some decisions. So we’ll see.”

And on Nunez’s future as a Major League player, Cashman said:

“I know he wants to be in the big leagues, no question about it. He wants to be playing in the big leagues. I can understand that. It’s less to do with Eduardo and as much to do with what Dean Anna and Solarte showed this spring. Listen, we were fortunate to have everybody come into Spring Training on the infield side and do very well. It put a wrinkle in our decision-making process, and so here we are. These guys have provided us with choices, so we made those choices. It’s more about what Anna and Solarte showed, and not necessarily as much about Eduardo. We try to celebrate what those guys did in the competition rather than what Nuney didn’t.”

The captain’s final voyage begins in Houston

Derek JeterDerek Jeter isn’t sure of how Tuesday’s season opener against the Astros will turn out, but he has a pretty good idea of what Opening Day will feel like. As Jeter kicks off what may look like a 162-game victory lap through big league cities far and near, the retiring Yankees captain is just trying not to look too far ahead.

“I would assume it’s like every other Opening Day,” Jeter said at Minute Maid Park, where the Yankees held a workout on Monday. “I’m trying to treat it like every other Opening Day. Every Opening Day is special; you have butterflies and you have nerves. I think that’s a good thing. But I don’t foresee that being any different.”

You have to scrape to find a connection between Jeter and Houston; he has actually played just three career games at Minute Maid Park, since Jeter missed the Yanks’ season-ending series here last September. Those three games came in 2008, back when the Astros were still in the National League, during a series which you’ll probably remember most for Chien-Ming Wang’s career-altering injury while running the bases.

But there is a fun story about how the Astros had the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 First-Year Player Draft. Astros scout Hal Newhouser, a Hall of Fame pitcher during his playing days, had seen plenty of Jeter on the fields of Kalamazoo, Mich. and predicted stardom ahead for the young shortstop. Newhouser lobbied the Astros to take Jeter, but Houston selected college infielder Phil Nevin instead.

Four other teams also passed on Jeter, who fell to the Yankees at the No. 6 spot. The Yankees had their future captain, and Newhouser handed in his resignation shortly after the Draft.

“I was fortunate to be drafted by the team that I wanted to be with, that I was a fan of growing up,” Jeter said. “I’ve never really allowed myself to think of what could have been different. I understand the draft is a crapshoot. I wasn’t even aware that the Yankees drafted sixth, to be quite honest with you. I think things worked out the way they should have worked out.”

Jeter has said that he was pleased with how his spring went, even though he batted just .137 (7-for-51) in 18 Grapefruit League games. Jeter’s timing seemed to improve near the end of camp, and the fact that he moved well on the basepaths and in the field was encouraging to the Yankees.

“It’s been a fun spring,” Jeter said. “It was a fun spring for me in terms of just getting back on the field — and enjoying it.”

Yankees Opening Day lineup set

The Yankees are on the field here at Minute Maid Park in Houston, going through a light workout to prepare for tomorrow’s season opener against the Astros.

They have set their Opening Day lineup: it’s the same one that Joe Girardi sent out this weekend against the Marlins for what turned out to be the final exhibition game, just switching Carlos Beltran to right field and Alfonso Soriano to designated hitter:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Kelly Johnson 3B

CC Sabathia LHP

Also, Brian Cashman said that the Yankees have until tomorrow to make their 40-man roster move, and that there’s no real rush to get it done; technically, Brendan Ryan is on the 25-man roster right now and Yangervis Solarte is not, but that’s just paperwork. They’ll place Ryan on the DL, make a 40-man move to add Solarte and then have Solarte on the bench for tomorrow’s game.

Probable Opening Day lineup revealed

Joe Girardi said that the lineup he would have sent out today against the Marlins bears a great resemblance to the one that he plans to use against the Astros on Opening Day.

“There’s a pretty good chance we’ll use that Tuesday,” Girardi said.

I would guess that Girardi plans to play Carlos Beltran in right field and have Alfonso Soriano as the designated hitter, though that wasn’t how it was in today’s lineup. Either way, the batting order seems to be correct.

Girardi was asked why he is hitting Gardner seventh.

“He’s a guy that we feel we could hit anywhere in the top or anywhere down to give some speed,” he replied. “He had a pretty good year offensively last year, and that’s where we decided to put him.”

The best guess for the April 1 lineup, then, is probably:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Kelly Johnson 3B

CC Sabathia LHP

Also, here are the most recent Yankees roster moves:

March 28
· Optioned LHP Cesar Cabral and RHP Shane Greene to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
· Reassigned INF Zelous Wheeler, OF Antoan Richardson, OF Adonis Garcia, RHP Matt Daley and C Jose Gil to minor league camp.

March 29
· Optioned INF Eduardo Nunez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Solarte wins final roster spot, Nunez to Triple-A

Yangervis Solarte is heading to Houston. The Yankees selected the non-roster invitee as their final roster pick, optioning Eduardo Nunez to Triple-A.

“This is a dream come true,” Solarte said through an interpreter. “This is a new beginning. This is when the work actually starts.”

Joe Girardi said that Solarte “won the spot in Spring Training,” and that it was “extremely difficult” to give Nunez the news. Girardi said that Nunez was “very disappointed and upset” by the decision.

Dean Anna will be the backup to Derek Jeter, and the Yankees will look at Solarte more at second and third bases, though Girardi said that he could play Solarte at any infield position.

The Yankees need to make a 40-man roster move before Tuesday (not Sunday, as originally believed) to accommodate Solarte. That move hasn’t been announced yet.

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