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Solarte claims final roster spot over Nunez

Yankees name 26-year-old infielder to roster, Nunez optioned to Triple A
03/29/2014 4:21 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Yangervis Solarte was named to the Yankees' Opening Day roster on Saturday, beating out Eduardo Nunez.(AP)
Yangervis Solarte has won the Yankees' final bench spot, with manager Joe Girardi announcing Saturday afternoon that the 26-year-old Venezuelan infielder had made the team and Eduardo Nunez has been optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

According to the skipper, Solarte, who will make his major-league debut the first time he makes an appearance, was chosen because the Yankees will use Dean Anna as their backup shortstop early on, so the role Solarte and Nunez were fighting for was primarily as a backup at second and third base.

"He's played a little bit more second and third than Nuney has in his career," Girardi said of Solarte. "We thought he won the spot in spring training."

Girardi also said that it was tough to break the news to Nunez, who "did not take it well."

"It's hard for a player that's been to the big leagues, that's been through what Nuney's been through. It's tough. But it's something that players need to overcome," the skipper said. "We all love Nuney. There's something about his character and who he is that just makes him a guy that everyone roots for; obviously he's very disappointed and upset, and I understand that. He feels that he's a big league player, and I understand that too. I mean, he's had some success in the big leagues. But it's a hard time for him right now."

Solarte came to camp as a non-roster invitee and played in 24 games this spring, hitting .429 with two home runs, nine RBIs, five walks, nine runs scored and a 1.061 OPS over 47 plate appearances. He has spent the last two seasons with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock, Texas, hitting .276 with 12 homers and 75 RBI in 133 games in 2013 while playing second base, shortstop, third base, and a small amount of left field.

"This is a dream come true," Solarte said after the announcement. "This is a new beginning. This is when the work actually starts."

Nunez, who did not stay in the clubhouse after being told of his fate, finished the spring with a .265 average, one home run, four RBI, one walk, one stolen base, and a .668 OPS in 50 plate appearances over 19 games.

According to a Tweet by ESPN Deportes' Marly Rivera, Nunez was called into Girardi's office first, so Solarte thought he had been cut - leading him to go get a baseball to get Derek Jeter's autograph and say goodbye. Instead, Solarte found out moments later that he may get the chance to flank The Captain in a major-league game sooner rather than later.

The Yankees will have to make a 40-man roster move prior to Tuesday's opener to accommodate Solarte, who will fly to Houston on Sunday to meet the team.

The organization made the rest of their final spring roster moves official on Saturday as well, optioning LHP Cesar Cabral and RHP Shane Greene to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and reassigning infielder Zelous Wheeler, outfielders Antoan Richardson and Adonis Garcia, catcher Jose Gil, and RHP Matt Daley to minor league camp.

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