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Wednesday, April 9, 2014
What's a Yangervis, anyway?

By Wallace Matthews

NEW YORK -- It's only been eight games, but we already know Yangervis Solarte can hit. And it looks like he can field, at least well enough, anyway.

But if you're like a lot of Yankees fans, you're probably wondering what's up with his first name.

Well, Solarte explained it today, and it's a simple explanation: Yangervis is a combination of the first names of his mother, Yanmili, and his father, Gervis. Yan-Gervis. Easy, right?

Solarte, who leads the Yankees in batting average (.458), slugging average (.708), OPS (.519) and RBIs (7), has become an instant fan favorite, drawing cheers to rival Derek Jeter's at Monday night's homecoming dinner. And to think Joe Girardi's decision came down to the wire -- it wasn't until the last day of spring training that he decided to keep Solarte, who had a super spring as well, and give up on Eduardo Nunez, who was designated for assignment and eventually traded to the Twins for a Class A pitcher.

Solarte's roots in New York baseball go back more than eight games, however. He is the nephew of Roger Cedeno, who played for the Mets for three of his 11 big league seasons. As a boy, Solarte was a huge fan of his uncle's, and now his uncle is returning the favor. Solarte said he and Uncle Roger -- he is the brother of Solarte's father -- talk by phone after every game, and in fact spoke for two hours after Tuesday's game, in which Solarte had two doubles, giving him a major league-record six doubles in his first seven games.

"He was my example growing up," Solarte said. "And now he tells me he feels very proud of me, even more so than when he made it to the big leagues. And likewise, when he made it to the big leagues I was equally as proud of him. He told me every bit of advice he’s given to me has been repaid by the way I'm playing. He always has something positive to say to me."