LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees' Solarte Continues To Cool Off After Dream Start To MLB Career

Monday, June 23, 2014

Yankees' Solarte Continues To Cool Off After Dream Start To MLB Career

Is it time to start worrying about Yangervis Solarte?

The Yankees third baseman displaced Eduardo Nunez during Spring Training, took over Kelley Johson’s starting job and carried the Yankees offense through the first month and a half of the season. He is now in, as everyone knows, a major slump.

Solarte has had some minor slumps this season, during which Joe Girardi gave the soon to be 27 year old rookie a breather. He would always come back swinging the bat better. This time, however, that hasn't worked.

He is hitless in his past 9 games and has only two hits in his past 10, good for a .065 BA, bringing his season average down to .263. Certainly, bad luck has played a role, as Solarte has hit a few scorchers with nothing to show for it, but he had some good luck earlier in the season and these things have a way of evening out (as Brian McCann is no doubt hoping).

The question now is whether this is the true Solarte or is he just struggling to adjust to the rigors of a major league season. Given his extensive minor league experience, it’s more likely to be the former.

He was a revelation and a season savior over the first few months, but Solarate was never expected to be a vital part of the offense. In 672 games in the minors, Solarte hit .286 with a .336 OBP and, against stronger competition, a drop in BA was to be expected. Really, the Yankees just wanted someone who made contact and played solid defense over at the hot corner. He has 6 errors on the season--5 at third base--but has a great arm and agility that has saved more than one run this season.

If Solarte can level out and maintain an average between .260 and .270 for the rest of the season, the Yankees should sign up for it.

The real concern here is the mental toll this may take on Solarte, who spent years in the minors and has to be constantly looking over his shoulder, wondering if the Yankees will cut bait, move on to a hot hand in the minors, and send him on his way.

Solarte likely doesn’t have to worry about that scenario, as his early success has likely garnered him enough good will to last at least through the first half. After that, though, Solarte should keep in mind that this is a business and that Brian Cashman will always look to improve his team.

Girardi will look to continue to give Solarte chances to prove himself but, as he showed earlier this year when he played Solarte over Johnson, and when he started platooning Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano, the Yankees manager is going to play the team he thinks will get a win, egos, self-confidence and great personal stories aside.

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