SARASOTA, Fla. - While listing some players last Friday who have impressed him, general manager Brian Cashman mentioned Eduardo Nuñez.
Nuñez, 23, battling for a backup infield spot, started hammering the ball in his first batting-practice session and has carried that into the games. In Monday afternoon's 7-1 victory over the Phillies, he smashed a three-run homer to deep left-center off Roy Oswalt. Nuñez is hitting .286 with five RBIs.
"He's an exciting player," Joe Girardi said before Monday night's split-squad 0-0 tie against the Orioles. "The young man has a lot of talent."
Girardi has rotated Nuñez and Ramiro Peña between second and shortstop. Nuñez started at short Monday, Peña at second.
Chavez on fire
Eric Chavez went 3-for-3 Monday, raising his average to .471. Said Girardi: "There's nothing that I've seen from him that tells me he's been hurt the past couple years." The Yankees signed Chavez to play third base when Alex Rodriguez sits.
After being delayed by a nagging groin injury, Andrew Brackman is set to make his debut Tuesdayagainst the Braves.
"It really didn't hurt, but it was precautionary, which I understand," Brackman said. "I'd rather be out three days than a month or more during the season. But I'm ready to go."
The contenders for back-end rotation spots continue to pitch well, with Sergio Mitre throwing three scoreless innings and striking out three against the Orioles. In the second inning, centerfielder Greg Golson nipped Mark Reynolds at the plate with a perfect throw as Austin Romine decoyed the runner and applied the tag . . . Girardi has kept the presumed starting infield and outfield playing on alternate days, something he plans to change after an off day next Tuesday. He did not rule out some experiments, including Brett Gardner leading off and Jeter batting second. Said Girardi: "I'm going to tinker with everything a little bit." . . . Joba Chamberlain and Pedro Feliciano each pitched a perfect inning against the Phillies . . . Rafael Soriano, who threw a simulated inning yesterday morning, will appear in his first game tomorrow or Thursday.