Uncertain status of Eduardo Nunez has Yankees scrambling

Eduardo Nunez of the Yankees runs home to

Eduardo Nunez of the Yankees runs home to score a eighth inning run against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. (April 30, 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

DENVER - Eduardo Nunez said he hoped to be back in the Yankees lineup by Wednesday night.

But before Tuesday night's game against the Rockies, Nunez, who left Sunday's game with soreness in his left rib cage area, made that possibility sound remote.

Nunez said that although he felt "better'' than he did Sunday and Monday, the Yankees weren't going to have him do any baseball activities Tuesday.

Further, asked if he were to feel the same way today that he did as he spoke to reporters Tuesday, Nunez, who had an MRI on Sunday that came back negative, didn't take long to answer.

"No,'' he said.

His manager didn't sound all that optimistic about a quick return Wednesday night, either.

"That might be a little bit early,'' Joe Girardi said. "He's not ready to take tee and toss yet, or anything like that.''

Asked about the disabled list being a possibility, Girardi said: "I hope [not]. We have enough people there on the DL. We don't need to add anyone.''

With reliever Joba Chamberlain heading there last week, the Yankees have 10 players on the DL.

"You kind of go day by day,'' Girardi said. "If you really feel it's going to be close to 15 days, then I think you make a move. We're in Day 2. I think it's too early. But we'll see.''

Nunez said he felt something early in Sunday's game when he fouled off a pitch.

"I never felt that before,'' the 25-year-old said. "After a foul ball, it killed me, they took me out and I couldn't do anything.''

Asked if it felt more pain hitting or throwing, Nunez said, "Both.''

Nunez said he would show up Wednesday with the intent to take swings and would take grounders during the pregame.

"I'll be testing it [Wednesday],'' Nunez said. "If I feel [the same], I won't do anything , too . . . they don't want me to play too soon.''

With Nunez sidelined, Girardi -- once again -- has to shuffle the left side of the infield.

Jayson Nix, who became the everyday third baseman when Kevin Youkilis went on the disabled list with a bad back, is now at short. Chris Nelson, acquired last week from the Rockies, started at third and likely will continue to do so as long as Nunez is out.

"It makes it more difficult when backups are replacing backups,'' Girardi said. "Because your depth is really tested. Sometimes kids aren't ready or you may not have someone ready to step up to that position. So that makes it more difficult.''

In terms of infield options with Nunez down, Girardi doesn't have many.

Designated hitter Travis Hafner hasn't played in the field in more than five seasons. Outfielder Brennan Boesch has taken some grounders at first and utility infielder Lyle Overbay would be a potential option in an emergency situation Girardi would rather not ponder.

And Girardi said he doesn't feel overly handicapped having Hafner in a National League park, where there is no designated hitter.

"The key to not getting caught in a National League game is getting distance out of your starter and not getting into an 18-inning game,'' Girardi said. "That's the key. If those two things happen, then you get caught."

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