Yankees infielder Eduardo Nunez working on his fielding skills. (Feb....

Yankees infielder Eduardo Nunez working on his fielding skills. (Feb. 22, 2012) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Eduardo Nuñez was in the Yankees' original starting lineup Tuesday, batting seventh and playing shortstop. That proved to be wishful thinking, though. His hand started aching during batting practice and the club decided to wait some more before allowing him to play.

Nuñez has not played since he was hit on the hand by a pitch a week ago Tuesday. "I think we're dealing with a bruise and I think we're dealing with that when you hit, you've got to have that snap and that's where he got hit," Joe Girardi said. "I don't think, long-term, we're going to miss him for a lot of time, but I'd like to get him back.

"He says it's better, but he still feels it, so we said 'No.' "

Girardi said Nuñez likely will sit out another three days.

For now, his roster spot appears safe based on his play last year (remember the jokes about "Wally Pipp" when he replaced Derek Jeter during the latter's minor-league injury rehab). Girardi said it is easier for a position player to go on an accelerated schedule than a pitcher. A batter could conceivably get 10 at-bats in a minor league game.


Nova's pitches improving

Ivan Nova was much improved, with four scoreless innings in the 1-0 loss to the Red Sox. His fastball and changeup were both much better than they had been this spring, he said, although he stopped short of saying he needed the outing for his confidence. "You know I'm a very confident guy," he said, adding that he doesn't feel slighted that he has to compete for a starting spot despite winning 16 games last season. "Every day is a competition," he said.


Mo enjoys smooth inning

Mariano Rivera had another smooth, businesslike, uneventful inning: 13 pitches, nine strikes, no hits or walks, a strikeout. "I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't enjoy it," he said.

More Yankees headlines


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months