Solarte and Company Holding Their Own in the Infield
As the Yankees headed into the new season, everyone knew that third base was going to be a huge question mark. But few would have guessed that the answer would be Yangervis Solarte.
Previously written off as a career minor leaguer, the 26-year-old rookie is making Yankee fans say, “A-Rod who?” Going into Thursday night’s game, Solarte is 12-for-28 with 7 RBIs. He has also made some stellar plays in the field.
Solarte won the job in spring training with similar numbers, batting .429 in 50 plate appearances. His performance put the final nail in the coffin that was Eduardo Nunez’s career with the Yankees. Solarte, Nunez, and a few others were in contention for utility infielder spots. Brendan Ryan’s trip to the disabled list left another hole to fill as well. Nunez was less than impressive in spring training and didn’t make the cut. This week he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for pitching prospect Miguel Sulbaran.
A native Venezuelan, Solarte began his minor league career with the Twins at 18. He spent six years there and then moved on to Triple-A with the Rangers. During the offseason he decided to sign a minor league deal with the Yankees. His uncle is former major leaguer Roger Cedeno.
Solarte had originally been pegged to round out the bench along with Dean Anna, but he has been seeing more starts since Mark Teixeira went on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring. Kelly Johnson, initially intended to be A-Rod’s replacement at third, has shifted to first base to fill in for Teixeira. Brian Roberts has exceeded defensive expectations at second as well. Though many will say Derek Jeter is the only household name currently in the Yankee infield, Joe Girardi and Yankee fans have to be pleased with what they’re seeing, especially in the wake of Robinson Cano’s departure.
Johnson has also been holding his own at the plate. He is 7-for-25 with two home runs.
No one is delusional enough to think that Solarte won’t eventually cool down, or that Roberts’ defensive (and offensive) prowess is equal to Cano’s. But considering they are only a couple of years removed from an infield of four All-Stars, the Yankees are proving marquee names aren’t everything.
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