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Saturday, July 6, 2013
Nunez: Best. Comeback. Ever

By Matt Ehalt

Eduardo Nunez
Eduardo Nunez was heavily involved in the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Orioles.
NEW YORK -- As the months passed by, Eduardo Nunez's frustration grew.

Given a golden chance to start every day for the New York Yankees at shortstop, Nunez was instead saddled on the disabled list for two months due to a strained left oblique that took longer than expected to heal. He missed 56 games before finally being activated for Saturday's game against the Baltimore Orioles.

"I was disappointed in myself for being hurt so long," Nunez said. "I'm happy to be back again. Had to turn the page."

In his return to the Bronx on Saturday, Nunez helped make up for the lost time by driving in the game-winning run in the Yankees' 5-4 win. Nunez went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored to help the Yankees win their season-best sixth straight game.

Nunez played in his first game since May 5.

"That's the best comeback you can do -- help the team to win," Nunez said.

The call-up to the Bronx surprised Nunez because the utility player expected he would not be brought back until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Needing to make a move to replace David Phelps, the Yankees chose to gamble on Nunez despite him having few at-bats in the minors during his rehab.

"We just said, 'Let's just try,'" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "'Let's go for it.'"

Nunez hit just .200 with the Yankees in his first 27 games, but he was comfortable at the plate on Saturday in helping a suddenly resurgent Yankees offense. His sacrifice fly in the second inning sliced Baltimore's lead to 3-2, and then he scored in the fifth to make it 4-3.

In the sixth, Nunez rocketed a crisp single up the middle to score Lyle Overbay and put the Yankees ahead by the final score. Nunez said he feels better at the plate now than he did earlier this season.

"I feel more comfortable," Nunez said. "I was working before I got hurt with [team hitting coach] Kevin Long on my lower body, and things work."

As Nunez healed from his injury, the Yankees ran through a gauntlet of different players on the left side of their infield but couldn't find the right fix. Nunez gives a combination of skills the others simply don't possess.

"He's the guy that you've kind of touted as an everyday player for a while," Girardi said. "Has the ability to really contribute offensively, play good defensively, steal bases and do a lot of different things. He has a lot of tools. For him, it's getting him healthy and getting him out there."

Nunez only arrived in New York late Friday night, heading to the Big Apple after playing in a game with Double-A Trenton. Less than 24 hours later, Nunez made the Yankees look smart for calling him up.

"I feel excited. I feel very good," Nunez said. "Happy to do what I love to do."