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Minor League Report: Nunez's comeback

Yankees’ prospect getting his game together in Triple-A
08/06/2012 10:02 AM ET
By Josh Horton

Eduardo Nunez is slowly getting his game back together in Triple-A.(AP)
Eduardo Nunez has endured many hurdles this season, whether it’s playing a position he’s unfamiliar with or fighting through a nagging thumb injury.

However, as of August 5, Nunez is ready to roll. For the first time in a long time, Nunez, demoted to Triple-A Scranton on May 11, feels he is at 100 percent. He admits it has been a struggle to get there and he is still trying to find his rhythm both at the plate and in the field.

“I feel so, so good now after my injury,” Nunez said. “It has been a long road and I am just happy to be back playing every day and working hard.”

Playing every day is a luxury Nunez wasn’t enjoying as a member of the New York Yankees. As a utility player, he was playing wherever the club needed him and as often as they needed him. Competing in Triple-A, he has been the everyday shortstop and getting more than his fair share of at-bats in the heart of the order.

“It can be tough when you don’t play every day,” Nunez said. “I feel like I can get in a much better rhythm now.”

The one thing Nunez noticed following his injury was how tough it is to step into the batters’ box against live pitching. Through Monday, Nunez was batting .226 with a home run and two RBIs in 14 games.

“Timing is the one thing that was really hard for me since I came back,” Nunez said. “I have been trying hard to get it back and it is definitely getting better, but that has been the toughest part for me.”

If he had been healthy, Nunez most likely would have gotten a shot as the short-term replacement for Alex Rodriguez (broken left hand). However, the Yankees opted for Ramiro Pena to fill the void until the acquisition of corner infielder Casey McGehee from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Nunez was optioned to Triple-A to work out some defensive kinks. Shortly after arriving he injured his thumb and was sidelined for nearly two months. Now it looks as if the outfield experiment is all but over, as Nunez (four errors) has played nothing but shortstop in his return to Scranton. He was forced to play some outfield in the Bronx when Brett Gardner went to the disabled list. The outfield was a position Nunez has never played and said it was one of the toughest things he has had to do in his career.

“For me it was so tough to play the outfield. I never played there before in my life. Never ever,” Nunez said with a smile. “I mean I think I was getting used to it with more time out there. But, it was really hard. I had no choice when Gardner went down I had to go out there and try to help the team.”

Although Nunez is definitely an infielder, he has also had to make some adjustments in the field since his return from the disabled list. He was away from the game for an extended period of time and didn’t take a live ground ball until rehabbing with Tampa.

“Fielding was tough to get used to too,” Nunez said. “It wasn’t as hard as hitting, but when you don’t play for a while it is hard to just go back out there and be 100%. Now I feel like I am 100% and I am very, very excited.”

When at his healthiest Nunez provides the Yankees with a strong bat and could play many positions in the field. He is on the 40-man roster and with September quickly approaching, Nunez feels he is as ready as he can be to go up and help in New York.

“I am ready,” Nunez said. “I know it has been a long, long season, but I feel I am ready to go back. It took a while to get my timing back at the plate, but I just have to keep working hard every day and we will see.”

Josh Horton is Media Relations Assistant for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.and  has an MLBlog called Above the PlateFollow Josh on Twitter: @J_HortonMU

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