When the Yankees lost Alex Rodriguez to the disabled list they knew they would have to call on Eric Chavez for an increased workload. Chavez has not only stepped in for Rodriguez, he has stepped up in ways that far surpassed any expectations the Yankees may have had of him. He’s been everything a role player should be on a team that has championship aspirations.
Just like fellow role players Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones, Chavez has seen much more playing time than originally expected. Injuries took a toll on him towards the end of his time with the Oakland Athletics. This year he has thrived in his increased role and has eased any worries that the Yankees may have had of him physically breaking down.
One look at some of the intangibles it takes to be a solid role player and it’s easy to see where Chavez has excelled in this role. He was a key starting third baseman in Oakland for 13 years and has six Gold Glove awards. His professionalism fits in with the personality of the Yankees and has made for a smooth transition while Rodriguez continues to get healthy for a September return. Manager Joe Girardi has praised him for the way he consistently works on his swing whenever the opportunity presents itself.
It’s that work ethic Girardi referred to that could be playing a big part in the offensive resurgence Chavez is having this year and the Yankees have needed every ounce of it from him. Chavez has given the Yankees multi-hit games, timely hits, and quality at-bats. His defense has been steady as always, however what the Yankees are getting from him at the plate has been a pleasant surprise.
The small moves that are made that don’t get the major headlines are just as important to a winning team as the large ones that do get the headlines. When the Yankees decided to bring back Chavez for 2012, who would have expected that they’d need him in the lineup so much? These are the type of moves that can determine the direction of a ballclub.
The race for the division and playoff positioning is still very close while the Yankees have Tampa Bay and Baltimore on their heels. Rodriguez is expected back for September. In the meantime they can at least rest easy that Chavez has stepped in and stepped up for them at such a crucial time in the season.