07/15/11 10:25 PM ET
Yanks OK with Nunez's learning curve at third
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
They have to.
"We don't have any other options," Yankees first-base and infield coach Mick Kelleher said.
With Nunez, it's a give and take.
They know the errors will come; like on Thursday, when he booted a would-be inning-ending chopper in the first inning, then misplayed a popup that went for a double in the second.
But they also know he's a dynamic, explosive player that can give the lineup a spark; like on Friday, when he got two hits and drove in the Yankees' only run in a 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays.
"It's a learning process," Kelleher said. "So even though he's played in the Minor Leagues for the last four or five years or whatever, it's a different ballgame up here. You just have to be patient and stick with these guys and keep teaching them. The confidence level comes, and then when you have confidence you play better, you feel better, and that's how you improve, really. You can't get down on young players. You just have to be patient and just keep working with them."
Kelleher said Nunez essentially over-charged the grounder he booted on Thursday. That resulted in Nunez's 11th error of the season, with most of them coming at shortstop -- the position he's most comfortable at.
One thing Kelleher noted about Nunez is his ability to flip the switch after an error.
"It doesn't seem to bother him, which is fabulous," he said. "Everybody's disappointed when they make an error, but he doesn't let it carry over. He's done a very good job for a young player, in that respect."
Will Nunez be fully comfortable at third base soon?
Not this season.
"It takes some people two, three years to really get it all if they've never been a third baseman," Kelleher said. "It's a work in progress. Is he going to get better in the next four, five, six weeks? Yeah, he is. Absolutely. But is he going to be a finished product in six weeks? No way. Not at third base. It takes too much time."
Girardi feels Colon's health is fine
TORONTO -- Joe Girardi talked to Bartolo Colon and examined tape, and neither gave the Yankees' manager any indication that his veteran starter wasn't healthy.
So, Colon will indeed stay in the rotation -- with his next scheduled start coming Tuesday against the Rays -- and Girardi is maintaining the fact that Colon's rough outing on Thursday night had more to do with the Yankees' defense than the 38-year-old's stuff.
"When I looked and saw eight runs, I said, 'Maybe his stuff wasn't sharp,'" Girardi said. "But his stuff wasn't that bad."
Colon wound up surrendering eight runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks, while throwing 42 pitches and getting just two outs on Thursday.
The first inning saw the Blue Jays get two infield hits on swinging bunts, Eduardo Nunez make an error on a potential third out, Brett Gardner misplay a line drive that went for a double, and Colon labor a bit after beating a runner to first base.
Colon threw six shutout innings against the Mets in his first start after missing time with a strained left hamstring, then gave up five runs on 10 hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings against the Rays before his rough outing at Rogers Centre.
After that game -- a 16-7 loss for the Yankees that catcher Russell Martin felt could've been helped by sign stealing -- Colon said he feels fine, but is playing in fear of re-injuring his left leg.
"I think he just needs to get it out of his head," Girardi said. "Because he tells me he's not feeling anything, so if he's not feeling anything, he's got to put what happened behind him and just go out and pitch and cover the base normally."
While poring over frame-by-frame tape, Girardi was mainly looking at how high Colon was lifting his leg and how he was landing. He felt those two things were on par with how they were earlier in the year.
Colon's velocity was a few ticks lower, though.
He can normally get his four-seam fastball in the mid-90s, but it was sitting more in the 92- or 93-mph range on Thursday, with his two-seamer -- which is normally in the low 90s -- frequently being in the upper 80s, according to Pitch-f/x.
Girardi said that could've been a byproduct of the All-Star break.
"He didn't throw as bad as I thought," Girardi said. "I thought he threw the ball well, and there was movement. But there was an error, plays we don't make that we usually make, infield hits. Those don't bode well."
Jeter is country's favorite male athlete
TORONTO -- Don't make too much of recent criticism over defensive range, contract negotiations and All-Star Game absences. Yankees captain Derek Jeter is actually America's favorite male athlete, according to the Harris Poll's annual survey.
Harris Interactive polled 2,163 adults from June 13-20 on their favorite athletes, and for the first time since originally being on the list in 2004, Jeter led the males, with tennis star Serena Williams leading the women for the third straight year.
Iconic golfer Tiger Woods had been the most popular athlete since '06, but fell to fifth in 2011.
After ranking third last year, Jeter -- who recently became the 28th member of the 3,000-hit club -- now leads the pack, with the rest out of the Top 10 respectively rounding out this way: Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, Woods, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, Bulls guard Derrick Rose, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.