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Former Yankee infielder Eduardo Nuñez blossoms with Twins

Minnesota Twins' Eduardo Nunez runs on his way

Minnesota Twins' Eduardo Nunez runs on his way to scoring from second base on a single by Joe Mauer against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, June 5, 2016, in Minneapolis. Credit: AP/ Bruce Kluckhohn

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Yankee Eduardo Nuñez has blossomed this season, a rare bright spot for what has been a miserable 2016 Twins season.

The 29-year-old Nuñez brought a .317/.346/.493 slash line into Thursday night’s game, in which he started at third and batted leadoff, with nine homers and 24 RBIs.

“He’s having a great year, and he’s played all over the place,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s hit for power, he’s hit for average. You can make an arguments that right now he’s their All-Star candidate.”

Counting Thursday night, Nuñez started 30 games at shortstop this season, 17 at third base, four at second and one at DH.

Nuñez was signed by the Yankees an amateur free agent in 2004 and made his debut, at the age of 23, in August 2010.

Always a fan favorite, Nuñez only sporadically received consistent playing time, often experiencing difficulties in the field when he did get in the lineup.

With both sides ready for a fresh start, the Yankees dealt him to the Twins April 7, 2014 in exchange for a lefty minor-league pitcher, Miguel Sulbaran.

“He hit when he played [with the Yankees], [but] we had every day shortstop here and there wasn’t always a lot of playing time for him,” Girardi said. “It’s tough for young kids when they don’t get that consistent playing time.”

Tex on track

Mark Teixeira, on the DL since June 4 with a cartilage tear in his right knee, was scheduled to take BP before Thursday’s game. The hope remains, as Teixeira said Wednesday in Denver, for him to appear in a rehab game next Tuesday with either Double-A Trenton, which is on the road, or Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which is home.

Teixeira has said his best-case scenario is playing back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday in the minors and returning to the big leagues Friday.

Welcome back

Outfielder Aaron Hicks, drafted and developed by the Twins before being traded to the Yankees in exchange for John Ryan Murphy last November, was asked by a Minnesota reporter if he missed playing in Minneapolis.

“Do I miss this place?” Hicks said with a smile. “I like the rent better.”

Though Hicks has struggled most of the season, the Yankees still, to this point, have bettered the Twins on the trade as Murphy was sent to the minors May 6 after hitting .075 with a .119 OBP in his first 11 games.

A-Rod returns

Alex Rodriguez, with just three extra base hits his last 14 games, returned to the lineup after essentially four days off (he pinch hit in Denver Tuesday).

“I just hope it refreshes him,” Girardi said of the break.

New York Sports