10/13/12 6:32 PM ET
Eppley added to ALCS roster in place of Nunez
Right-handed bench bat less valuable due to Tigers' right-handed arms
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
"I understand it," the back-up infielder said Saturday afternoon, ahead of Game 1 against the Tigers at Yankee Stadium. "They don't have too many lefties, and we needed a pitcher. It's OK."
That's exactly the logic manager Joe Girardi employed when he swapped Nunez for right-handed reliever Cody Eppley, pushing the number of pitchers the Yanks are carrying to 12.
"Knowing that with Kuroda going on short rest and maybe someone going on short rest later if we had to do that, it gives us an extra pitcher," Girardi said. "They send their left-handers out when you face a right-hander, we can mix and match a little more earlier if we have to."
The Yanks made no other changes from the roster that won them the AL Division Series in five games.
With Nunez gone, Jayson Nix would play shortstop if Derek Jeter were unable to go, a possibility Girardi didn't ignore. A bone bruise on Jeter's left foot forced him to be the designated hitter in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Orioles, though Jeter was back at shortstop on Friday when the Yankees won Game 5, 3-1, over the Orioles.
"I don't know that I would assume that he is 100 percent," said Girardi of Jeter. "But I feel pretty good about him playing short. And it's something we might have to fight through. We'll see."
Eppley (1-2, 3.33 ERA) had a 2.89 ERA in 13 September appearances, but he didn't fare great against the Tigers the three times he faced them throughout the year. In his last two meetings with them, Eppley allowed a combined two runs on four hits while recording five outs. He was better against them in a longer appearance in April, when he allowed one run in three innings.
The Yankees' seven-man bullpen has two left-handers -- Boone Logan and Clay Rapada. The Yankees' right-handed relievers are Joba Chamberlain, Eppley, Derek Lowe, David Robertson and closer Rafael Soriano.