New York Yankees: Brett Gardner's DL Stint Could Be Eduardo Nunez's Big Chance

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIApril 19, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: Eduardo Nunez #26 of the New York Yankees runs out an RBI single in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on April 17, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner hit the disabled list last night with an elbow injury that stemmed from his diving catch in Tuesday night's game against the Twins

The Yankees recalled right-handed pitcher Cody Eppley to take Gardner's spot on the roster.

With left field now open for at least the next two weeks, a combination of Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez and Eduardo Nunez will see some time.

Ibanez will get the call in Thursday night's game, but manager Joe Girardi would be smart to give the bulk of the innings to Nunez.

Sure, Nunez is an infielder by trade—and a terribly fielding infielder, at that—but he is lightning fast and has a very strong arm.

It may not be the most accurate arm, but accuracy will be less of an issue for him in the outfield.

Ground balls are an issue for him as well. He has problems with speeding up his mechanics in order to compensate for late breaks or bad reads on grounders. This causes him to lose control on his throws to first, which result in a majority of his errors.

In the outfield, he'll be asked only to get down on one knee and block the ball so it doesn't go past him.

Yeah, it's easier said than done, but a major league baseball player should be able to do such a mindless task.

Playing Nunez in the outfield would also give Girardi the chance to see if he can handle an everyday spot in the lineup while playing a position he is not accustomed to.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 7: Infielder Eduardo Nunez #26 of the New York Yankees bobbles an infield hit for an error against the Tampa Bay Rays April 7, 2012  at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Nick Swisher will likely be on his way out after the season, and rather than spending money on a big-name free agent—i.e. Andre Ethier, Shane Victorino, Josh Hamilton, etc.—the Yankees could go the cheap route and use Nunez as the starting right fielder.

His offensive output most likely wouldn't be much of an issue. Most players produce at a more consistent rate when given everyday at-bats, so Nunez should be able to put together at least a .270 average with 10 home runs and 50 RBI.

That's all you would need from a guy like him.

His potential to steal bases makes him even more valuable to the Yankees in an everyday role.

Imagine having both Gardner and Nunez in the starting lineup, both with the potential to steal 40-plus bases.

That would be a nightmare for opposing pitchers, catchers and managers.

Not only that, but an outfield of Gardner, Nunez and Curtis Granderson would easily be one of the top-three fastest outfields in the majors. Not many balls would get past them in the gaps, and not many balls would fly over their heads.

Consider this two-week stretch a possible tryout for Nunez, and don't be surprised if the Yankees go with him in right field to start next season.