TAMPA, Fla. -- For Yangervis Solarte, it was a dream realized.
For Eduardo Nuñez, it was the complete opposite.
The Yankees chose Solarte, a career utility infielder in the minor leagues brought in as a non-roster invitee, for their final roster spot Saturday, the culmination of an eyebrow-raising spring training for the 26-year-old from Venezuela.
"This is a dream come true,'' the switch-hitting Solarte said through a translator. "Now I have to work [harder]. This is when the work actually starts. I have goose bumps. I can't believe it.''
Because Solarte, who can play third, short and second as well as some outfield, is not on the Yankees' 40-man roster, they will have to make a move by 3 p.m. Sunday. But the club is more than happy to do so after watching Solarte hit .429 with two homers and a team-best nine RBIs during spring training, along with fielding well wherever the Yankees put him.
Additionally, Solarte, previously with the Rangers, had an opt-out clause if he didn't make the major-league club, and the Yankees were certain they would lose a player who very much intrigued them.
"We thought he won the spot,'' Joe Girardi said. "I didn't know much about him except the scouting reports we got. Thought he defensively played well, thought he gave you good at-bats every time he went up there, whether from the left side or the right side.''
The news was a blow for Nuñez, 26, who in his time with the Yankees has not been able to seize opportunities when they've arisen, whether because of injury or performance. The club also has been shown to have a short leash with him.
Nuñez did not play horribly in spring training but did nothing to distinguish himself, hitting .265 with a .280 on-base percentage.
"Obviously he's very disappointed and upset, and I understand that,'' Girardi said. "He feels that he's a big-league player and I understand that too. I mean, he's had some success in the big leagues. But it's a hard time for him right now.''
Shortstop Brendan Ryan will start the regular season on the disabled list with a pinched nerve in his upper back, and general manager Brian Cashman hasn't sounded optimistic that the stay will be over after 15 days. It has been weeks since Ryan has done much in the way of baseball activities, but he believes he'll start swinging a bat underwater Monday.
When a return date of May 1 was arbitrarily thrown out by a reporter, Ryan said, "I hope so. I would be pretty disappointed if it took that long.''
Michael Pineda, scheduled to make his first big-league start since 2011 next Saturday in Toronto, did not accompany the team to Houston Saturday night. The righthander will stay behind in Tampa to pitch in a minor-league game Sunday morning -- watched by Girardi, Cashman and pitching coach Larry Rothschild -- and head to Houston early in the week...The Yankees finished spring training at 17-12.