TORONTO -- The Yankees removed Eduardo Nunez in the sixth inning of Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays, surrendering their designated hitter and sparking concern that the backup infielder had suffered an injury.
Not so, said manager Joe Girardi, who noted after the game that the reasons for removing Nunez were "just defensive." Derek Jeter replaced Nunez at shortstop after serving just five innings in the DH role.
Nunez was surprised by the decision, saying, "A little bit; you know, it's early. But it doesn't matter what I think."
Girardi said that he could make the move because he knew starter Andy Pettitte would be out of the game by the next time Nunez's No. 8 spot came up, with a full bench of hitters available to replace the pitcher.
Nunez singled in his first at-bat on Saturday and hit the ball hard in his last two plate appearances, lining out to second base and flying out to center field.
"I have to do what I feel is best," Girardi said.
The move is notable considering utility man Jayson Nix traveled to New York on Saturday for an MRI exam on his sore left hip flexor, leaving Nunez as the primary backup at shortstop and second base. However, the Yankees still have concerns about Nunez's glove; he has committed 28 errors in 165 big league games, including eight this season.
Cano in lineup after X-rays come back clean
TORONTO -- The Yankees were relieved to learn that X-rays on Robinson Cano's left hand were negative, and the second baseman was back in New York's starting lineup on Saturday afternoon, batting cleanup.
Cano was hit on the hand by a pitch from the Blue Jays' Brett Cecil in the sixth inning of the Yankees' 11-4 win on Friday. He remained in the game but was sent for tests at a local hospital later in the evening.
"I was worried a little bit," Cano said. "The good thing was when I was swinging in that [last] at-bat, I didn't feel anything. That was a good sign."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he expected Cano's hand to be sore, but the results of the X-rays lifted some concern that it would present a lingering issue.
"I felt pretty good about it that he was able to stay in the game, but with the hand, there's all those little bones that you worry about," Girardi said.
Cano entered play on Saturday batting .301 with 30 home runs and 83 RBIs in 156 games this year. He said that he couldn't help but think of Alex Rodriguez, who fractured his left hand in July when he was hit by a Felix Hernandez pitch.
"A little bit, yeah," Cano said. "With where I got hit, I thought it was something bad. Good thing it was nothing major."
Yanks send Nix to New York for MRI on hip
TORONTO -- Yankees utility man Jayson Nix has been sent to New York for an MRI exam after feeling soreness in his left hip flexor.
Manager Joe Girardi said that Nix suffered the injury while fielding a ground ball on Thursday against the Blue Jays but did not mention it to the club's staff until Friday. He will rejoin the team in New York.
"For us to send him back and get an MRI, there's a concern," Girardi said.
With Nix unavailable, Eduardo Nunez started at shortstop for the Yankees on Saturday, with Derek Jeter getting a half-day as the designated hitter.
If Nix is out for an extended period, Nunez would be the Yankees' primary backup infielder. He worked out on the field early on Saturday morning with coaches Mick Kelleher and Tony Pena, taking extra ground balls.
"There's a possibility we may not have [Nix] for a while, and that's why Nuney becomes all the more important," Girardi said.
The Yankees' magic number for clinching a playoff spot entering play on Saturday was two, but the team wasn't expected to have a clubhouse celebration for simply making the postseason. Its goal remains to win the American League East, Girardi said.
Maybe I'll have dessert," Girardi said of a potential celebration.
Nick Swisher entered play on Saturday having hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, going 14-for-41 (.341) with four homers and 14 RBIs over the stretch.
On this date in 1987, Don Mattingly hit his sixth grand slam of the year, setting a Major League record for a single season that has since been tied (by Travis Hafner in 2006). Mattingly's blast came off Bruce Hurst in a 6-0 win over the Red Sox.