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Saturday, May 18, 2013
First Pitch: Five fresh faces

By Kieran Darcy

Preston Claiborne, David Adams, Vidal Nuno
Guys like Preston Claiborne, David Adams and Vidal Nuno have helped keep the injury-depleted Yanks above water.
The New York Yankees are now 26-16, owners of the second-best record in the American League -- especially impressive when you consider how many players are injured at the moment, many of them stars.

Several major league veterans have seemingly been revitalized by donning the pinstripes for the first time, including Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells.

But the Yankees have also gotten contributions from several unsung players, who were either backups to start the year or called up from the minors. In fact, New York has already had five players make their major league debuts in 2013. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last year in which as many as five Yankees made their major league debuts within the first 40 games of a season was 1995.

Who were the five back in '95? Well, you'll certainly recognize some of these names. Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera -- three members of the "Core Four -- all arrived on the scene that year. The other two were right-handed pitchers Brian Boehringer and Jeff Patterson.

The lucky five so far in '13? David Adams, Preston Claiborne, Corban Joseph, Brett Marshall and Vidal Nuno. And all have made positive contributions:

• Adams was just called up this week, and has four hits in 11 at-bats -- including two Friday night. He's the first Yankee to hit safely in his first three major league games since Shelley Duncan in 2007.

• Claiborne threw a scoreless ninth inning Friday night, and has thrown eight shutout innings out of the bullpen thus far.

• Joseph started both games of a doubleheader in Cleveland on Monday, at two different positions (first base and second base), and had a hit, too.

• Marshall took one for the team Wednesday, throwing 5 2/3 innings of relief after Phil Hughes couldn't get out of the first inning.

• Nuno threw five scoreless innings and won his first major league start on Monday, in the second game of the doubleheader.

Adams and Claiborne are still with the big club. Nuno's on his way back to New York, to replace the injured Pettitte in the rotation. Joseph and Marshall have returned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. But whatever happens the rest of the summer, they've played a part in this promising Yankees season.

The question is, how much more of an impact will they have, if any? Only time will tell.

Just look at that '95 group. Jeter and Rivera are headed for the Hall of Fame. And Pettitte could join them in Cooperstown, too.

Boehringer had a very respectable 10-year career with the Yankees, Padres, Giants and Pirates, pitching in 356 career games, mostly out of the bullpen.

But Patterson? He made his major league debut on April 30, 1995, made three appearances in eight days, gave up one run on three hits in 3 1/3 innings -- and never pitched in the majors again.

Baseball can warm your heart. But it can break your heart, too.

Up now: Hiroki Kuroda was brilliant again Friday night, as the Yankees won the series opener over the Blue Jays, 5-0.

On deck: They'll be back at it this afternoon, first pitch at 1:05 p.m. David Phelps (1-2, 4.33) will start for the Yankees, opposed by Brandon Morrow (1-2, 4.69). Andrew Marchand will be on duty for ESPNNewYork.com.

You're up: Which of the five newcomers looks the most promising to you?