When you’re a backup infielder on the New York Yankees, you don’t expect to see too much playing time. You’d be happy with a start every five games or so to give regulars a rest, or a pinch run opportunity in the eighth or ninth inning in a tight spot, possibly leading to some at-bats in extra innings.
Suffice it to say, that was probably all Jayson Nix was expecting, playing second fiddle to the likes of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira.
But utility players are like Boy Scouts—they know to always be prepared. When Rodriguez and Teixeira both caught the injury bug that has been plaguing the Yanks all season, Nix stepped up.
The 29-year-old Nix has gone 5-for-12 with six RBIs in the Yankees’ last seven games, sharing playing time at third and first with Eric Chavez and Casey McGehee, who was traded from Pittsburgh for reliever Chad Qualls. Nix had a big game on Wednesday, going 3-for-4 with an RBI as the Yanks crushed the Orioles 12-3. He also had a crucial pinch-hit double with the bases loaded in last Wednesday’s game against the Mariners.
“I knew there were a lot of circumstances that had to happen for me to get on the field this much,” Nix told the New York Post. “I knew there were good players here, and there weren’t a whole lot of spots…but there was a role here that needed to be filled.”
These days the Yankees aren’t taking anything, or anyone, for granted. They have had a total of fourteen players on the disabled list at one time or another, with other players such as Nick Swisher and Teixeira missing time due to injury without being placed on the list. (An MRI of Teixeira’s wrist showed no structural damage, but manager Joe Girardi is being cautious and isn’t sure when he’ll return to the lineup.)
Filling the shoes of Gold Glovers like Teixeira isn’t easy, but Nix has also been consistent with the leather. In 80 total chances this season he has only made two errors. In this way he has distinguished himself from Eduardo Nunez, whom the Yankees used to call on as their requisite backup infielder. Nunez made too many errors and was sent back down to Triple-A, and Nix had his chance to shine.
Nix was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2001. Since then, he has also spent time with the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Indians.
One thing’s for sure: the Yankees are certainly glad Nix found his way to New York, especially this season. Having a player that can play virtually any position—Nix also has had several starts in left field this season—is truly a valuable commodity on an aging, injury-prone team.
Expect to see Nix somewhere in the Yankee starting lineup tonight. They open a three-game set at home against the Mariners.