It only took three games for Yangervis Solarte to get his first major league start, and he did not disappoint. Solarte went 3-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and one RBI. He looked confident at the plate and on the base paths, and was a major part of the Yankees finally grabbing a win in Houston.
Solarte edged out Eduardo Nunez for the final spot on the 25-man roster this spring training. Nunez has since been designated for assignment. Where Nunez always felt like a backup with some upside, Solarte is more of a backup that is working his way towards the starting nine. He has versatility in his ability to play nearly any position on the field, and plays the infield much better than Nunez ever did. Don’t be surprised when you see number 26 in the Yankees infield. Aside from his spot on the roster, Solarte also took Nunez’s number.
Solarte’s confidence seemed to grow with each at-bat, each pitch he saw in the batter’s box. He is stuck right now with Brian Roberts at second and Kelly Johnson at third. However, Johnson’s position is not very secure considering his salary for the season and his poor start through two games. While a small sample size, Solarte has a massive advantage over Johnson when it comes to his playing ceiling. We know Kelly Johnson is a stop gap, just someone to make sure we have a body at the position. Solarte’s play and intangibles make him a very attractive option to be the everyday third baseman within a month.
On the last day of spring training, Solarte asked Derek Jeter for his autograph in case he never played with the captain again. One week later, they stood next to each other on the left side of the infield ready to take on the Astros. If Solarte continues to play the way he did tonight, the pair should become very close this season.