Former Yankee Brian Doyle knows what that feels like. Doyle was a 23-year-old rookie in 1978 when he was forced into the lineup in the World Series because of an injury to Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph.
All Doyle did was hit .438 as the Yankees beat the Dodgers in six games after falling behind 2-0 in the series.
Doyle, 57, was watching Game 1 of the ALCS early Sunday morning when Jeter fractured his ankle in the 12th inning fielding a ground ball. Nix took over at short and then went 0-for-3 in the Yankees' Game 2 loss.
Nuñez got the surprise start last night against Justin Verlander in Game 3. He made a nice play in the field and hit a leadoff home run off Verlander in the ninth inning of the Yankees' 2-1 loss.
"I think the biggest thing," Doyle said in a telephone interview from his Georgia home, "is that all of us that have been in the utility role always put our minds in that situation of 'what if' and 'are you ready?'
"You can't be concerned about taking Derek's place. Who can? The same way when I played. How can you take the place of Willie Randolph? You can't. You just have to be the Brian Doyle that is focused and in the moment and slow the game down."
Nix, a 30-year-old who signed with the Yankees as a minor-league free agent last offseason, said: "Don't think that this situation hasn't crossed my mind. These are things I have to consider. A certain guy goes down, I'm up. Derek goes down, Robbie [Cano] goes down or [Alex Rodriguez] goes down, I've got to play. These things have crossed my mind. Obviously, we're stunned this happened to Derek. But these are things I have to be ready for."
Doyle's other advice to Nix and Nuñez? Don't let the extra attention you are receiving interfere with doing your job. Don't take every phone call or respond to every text message.
"It depends on who the phone calls are from," Doyle said. "My wife helped a lot in that. With family and close friends, of course, it was talking to them. But one of the best things that can be done is turn the thing off. Right now, you have a job to do. Turn the thing off."
It was also Doyle's first and last big-league hurrah. He was a career .161 hitter in the regular season with the Yankees and Oakland from 1978-81. But his superb World Series has made him a favorite at Old-Timers' Day and with Yankees fans of a certain age.
"Every week, it's brought up," he said.