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Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Nunez ribbed, then scratched

By Wallace Matthews

TORONTO -- The Yankees were having some fun at Eduardo Nunez's expense before tonight's game against the Blue Jays. First, a wheelchair was rolled in front of his locker, and then, Vernon Wells and Joba Chamberlain headed out to the infield, where Wells lied down in the approximate position where Nunez collapsed in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game while Joba traced him with chalk line as if it were a crime scene.

Look closely and you can see the chalk outline of Eduardo Nunez pic.twitter.com/YTysWU67oG

— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) August 28, 2013


"We were trying to find him some crutches, too," said Lyle Overbay, Nunez's neighbor in the visitor's clubhouse at the Rogers Centre. "We just want to make sure he gets to the field safe."

Everyone had a good laugh, including Nunez, who muttered something about "Jeter" and getting to the bottom of the whole thing. "You think this is funny?" he asked his teammates, followed by an expletive. But he clearly did, since he was laughing as hard as anyone.

But no one was laughing about an hour later when it was announced that Nunez was scratched from tonight's lineup after he discovered in pregame warmups that his injured right knee was still too sore to allow him to play tonight.

So once again, the Yankees will have to go with a substitute for a substitute, hurriedly inserting Mark Reynolds into the lineup at second base in place of Nunez, who was supposed to be playing in place of Robinson Cano, who got hit by a pitch in the first inning last night and is not expected to play again until Friday.

"It’s good that they’re in a good mood in there, and they’re loose, and they had a little fun," Girardi had said of the shenanigans with the wheelchair and the chalk. "You get some guys that are pretty clever and like to rib each other."

That was when he still thought Nunez was going to play in tonight's rubber game against the Blue Jays. But just in case, he had Reynolds, who has played all of three innings at second base in seven major-league seasons, take grounders before the game.

Girardi had called Reynolds "Mr. Everything" before the game, and in fact, had used him in the ninth inning of last night's game after Nunez came out after crumpling for no apparent reason while moving toward second base on a potential double-play grounder the inning before. Later, Nunez said he had caught a spike in a seam in the Rogers Centre's artificial turf. Girardi called it "a Nunie-ism." And Nunez's teammates, including Overbay, Wells, Chamberlain, Cano, Mariano Rivera, Alfonso Soriano and Chris Stewart, all had a good laugh at a young player who is considered somewhat dramatic in his reaction to injuries.

"Weird things happen to me all the time, I guess," Nunez said. "Now it's funny because I didn't break my knee but that wasn't funny last night. Now I'm laughing."

That was before he had to be scratched from the lineup. We'll see how funny it really is after the game.