Eduardo Nunez smiled as he watched a clubhouse attendant affix his nameplate above a locker in the corner of the Yankees' clubhouse.
"I'm very happy to be here," said Nunez, who delivered a clutch seventh-inning single Saturday in the Yankees' 4-3 victory over Baltimore. "It was no fun down there."
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By "down there,'' Nunez meant the Triple-A Scranton / Wilkes-Barre Yankees after his demotion in mid-May because of his defensive struggles.
Nunez and catcher Francisco Cervelli were two of the six players added to the roster Saturday when the rosters were expanded. Both were relieved to be back in the majors after having spent hard time playing for Scranton, a club that has had to play its entire season on the road while its stadium is being rebuilt.
"I'm going to miss the bus, because it was my house," Cervelli -- who played in 178 games for the Yankees in 2009-11 but was demoted just before the season began when the Yankees traded for backup catcher Chris Stewart -- said of his stay in the minors. "When you drive back to NYC and see all the buildings, it feels like the first time I got called up."
Cervelli didn't play, but Nunez was thrown right into the fire. He responded with a two-out RBI single that brought the Yankees within 3-2 and scored on an error for a 4-3 lead.
"After everything I went through, I am so happy to be back," Nunez said. "To contribute to a big win is exciting. I mean, I got so excited after that hit, I almost cried."
Nunez, who started the season with the Yankees, was sent down after committing four errors in 20 games, including two in his final game.
He said part of his problem was that he had played third base, shortstop, second base, leftfield and rightfield in that span. With Scranton, though he missed a month because of a finger injury, he was able to concentrate on playing shortstop.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he knew it was hard on both players to be sent down.
"I'm sure it was extremely difficult," he said. "It's definitely a hard thing to go through. Being sent down from big league camp when you've never been in the big leagues is different from when you've been in the big leagues, because you don't really know what the big leagues is like. Obviously, when you get here, you don't ever want to go back down."
Nunez, who is batting .296 for the Yankees this season, now is slated to play primarily at shortstop. He originally was supposed to play short yesterday but instead served as the designated hitter and batted eighth after Derek Jeter talked to Girardi.
Girardi said he wasn't surprised to see the way Nunez responded. "Nuney has that ability, he said. "He can be a really exciting player."