NEW YORK -- The Yankees optioned Eduardo Nunez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday, wondering if they may have put too much on the youngster's plate by asking him to play multiple positions.
Manager Joe Girardi said that the Yankees will ask Nunez to concentrate more on playing shortstop, with an occasional day at second base mixed in. The move came one day after Nunez committed two errors at third base in the Yankees' 5-3 win over the Rays.
"It gets him back to playing every day," Girardi said. "When I look at Nuney's future, I don't see Nuney as a utility guy. I see him as an everyday player, so we made this move.
"It's tough, because he's a great kid with a great work ethic that's willing to do anything for you -- that provides a lot of excitement. But for his development, we thought it was more important to get him playing every day at short again."
Nunez had made a team-leading four errors in 20 games for New York this year, appearing at shortstop, second base, third base and in the outfield. Last year, he committed 20 errors, 14 at shortstop and six at third base.
"The majority of it is probably just from not being comfortable," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "I don't want to speak on his behalf, but I would assume just not playing every day is tough to do. ...
"He needs to play. That's the thing. Everyone would love for him to be here, but he needs to play. That's the best thing for him."
The Yankees were willing to take a chance on the 24-year-old because of a promising bat, and Nunez had two hits with a walk on Thursday to raise his average to .294 (15-for-51). But his inconsistent defense was too much of an issue at this time.
"Our thought is that this kid is going to be an everyday shortstop," Girardi said. "That's what, for the most part, we want him to concentrate on. We think that that is where his true value is probably going to be.
"Time will tell, but this kid -- we've seen when he's played shortstop on an everyday basis, how things seem to smooth out. It's not easy what we were asking him to do, especially a young man who had never done that in his career."
With Nunez sent to Triple-A, Jayson Nix will be the Yankees' primary backup for Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano at shortstop and second base, respectively. Eric Chavez, who was activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list on Friday, will back up at first base and third.
Yanks activate Chavez from concussion DL
NEW YORK -- Eric Chavez was activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list on Friday, one day after retaking an exam to satisfy Major League Baseball's restrictions on players after sustaining such injuries.
Chavez was diagnosed with a concussion and whiplash after diving for a ball hit by the Orioles' J.J. Hardy on May 2. He said that he probably could have returned to the Yankees' lineup sooner.
"Honestly, for probably the last three days, I felt pretty close to 100 percent," Chavez said. "I took BP [Wednesday and Thursday] and felt fine. ... I just kind of felt myself getting better. I don't necessarily feel that the tests helped me do that. I just feel myself getting better every day."
Chavez, who has hit .290 (9-for-31) with three home runs and five RBIs in 15 games for New York, said that he took the tests with a neurologist and also on a computer at Yankee Stadium. He joked that he wasn't sure if he could have passed the challenging exam even before his concussion.
"It's very unconventional," Chavez said. "I can't say that I fully agree with the whole process of it. It's a lot of shapes, numbers, memory -- a whole lot of stuff. There's five different parts. It's a difficult test."
Chavez had less issue with the daunting assignment of coming off the disabled list to face the Mariners' Felix Hernandez, getting the nod as the Yankees' designated hitter on Friday.
"That's fine with me," Chavez said. "That's OK."
Gardner tried to come back too soon
NEW YORK -- Brett Gardner estimates that his strained right elbow was at 95 percent when he started his rehab assignment, not the necessary 100 percent, and that will cost the Yankees speedster at least another two weeks on the disabled list.
An MRI taken Thursday revealed an aggravation of the strain that has kept Gardner out of action since April 17. Gardner will not be permitted to swing a bat for 10 days, and manager Joe Girardi suggested that Gardner will not return for 15-25 days.
"It's not a seasonlong thing," Gardner said. "I tried to get it going too early, and it's something I've got to take a little more time with. Whether I take 10 days or who knows how long, I've got to get it right.
"I've always realized two days ago that it's not something I can play through, it's not something I can continue to go with. It's something that I've got to get right before I get back after it."
Gardner played in two Minor League rehabilitation games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and had been primed for activation before the setback. Gardner said that one positive is that the bone bruise he suffered while making a sliding catch is almost gone, so that won't nag him as he recovers.
"It's frustrating, but it is what it is," Gardner said. "A big part of my game is my legs, and I can continue to run, I can continue to come out here and take fly balls and ground balls and throw.
"I can keep my arm and my legs in shape, and whenever that right elbow feels good and I can swing a bat, I'll be a day or two away from being able to be in a game."
David Robertson is in line to serve as the Yankees' closer on Friday. He was unavailable on Thursday because the team does not want to have him pitch three days in a row. Rafael Soriano, who saved Thursday's game, is likely unavailable on Friday.
CC Sabathia has tied a career high with 53 strikeouts through his first seven starts, something he also did in 2007. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the fifth-most strikeouts by a Yankees pitcher through seven starts; Bob Turley had 69 in 1955, which ranks first.
On this date in 1903, John Ganzel hit the first home run in franchise history, an inside-the-park solo homer off the Tigers' George Mullin. The Highlanders won, 8-2, at Detroit's Bennett Park. On this date in 2006, Hideki Matsui fractured his left wrist in the first inning against the Red Sox and was removed from the game, ending his games-played streak of 1,768 consecutive contests as a professional. Most of those games (1,250) were played with the Yomiuri Giants, and 518 were with the Yankees.