With Derek Jeter still working his way back from last season's broken ankle and replacement shortstop Eduardo Nunez temporarily sidelined after being struck on the wrist with a pitch Friday night, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to get little creative during their 5-3 loss to the Orioles on Saturday.
His lineup card had Jayson Nix playing shortstop, which made sense. Nix is a versatile player who can be comfortably plugged in anywhere in the infield and has also logged time as a corner outfielder. He's a valuable player to have on the roster for that reason, he's just not your first, second or third choice to have at the plate in any given spot, and especially not in run scoring situations late in games.
That's why Girardi called on Brennan Boesch to pinch-hit for Nix in the eighth inning with a pair of runners on base and New York down by two. A sound idea. Unfortunately for Joe, though, the strategy didn't work as Boesch ended up striking out. The consequences of the move also left him needing a new shortstop in the ninth inning, so he turned to his always reliable second baseman Robinson Cano to play the position for the first time in his major league career.
In fact, the last time Cano played the position at all was 2003, and according to Eye on Baseball's Mike Axisa that was for one inning during a game at Double A.
Needless to say, it's not a position of comfort for Cano, but he's certainly athletic enough to pull it off if he logged the time necessary to make it work. His lack of experience wasn't a concern here though since Cano never handled a chance in the inning, and it won't be going forward as Girardi will only use him there in situations like Saturday or when it's a true emergency.
Now, that covers one side of the infield. Of course with Cano moving over that leaves a vacancy at second base, which Girardi elected to fill with... catcher Francisco Cervelli.
It's actually Cervelli's second appearance at the position (one inning in 2011) and he's also logged a handful of innings at third base for New York. It's not completely foreign to him, and the whole idea isn't foreign to Girardi, either, since he had Jorge Posada play second base once in 2011 when the Yankees owned a 14 run lead.
Again, this will only be done late in games for strategical purposes or in the case of emergency, but given the Yankees luck early and the rash of injuries around baseball, we may not be far from this setup for New York and similar setups around the league.
Bottom line. Stay healthy out there, guys. We're begging you.