Thursday, August 22, 2013

Yankees Loss of Nix Hurts More Than You Think

There have been a number of players over the years described as scrappy, pesky, or a "real gamer". Sometimes those terms have been used so often, such as describing David Eckstein, that it annoyed fans. It really is said to mean said player does more with less. (Which could  kind of sound like a slight to the player.)

Teams like to include those types of players on their rosters. Guys like Phil Garner, who would run through walls to help his team win a game. Jayson Nix is that type of player and when the Yankees lost him for the season with a broken hand Wednesday night they lost some attitude and grit in their clubhouse.

Don't go quoting Nix's OPS to me to belittle him. Nix is the kind of player whose game isn't necessarily reflected in box scores. His best asset is his versatility; he can play second base, shortstop, and third base. He's also played 22 games in the outfield, mostly on an emergency basis.

Nix has good speed and picks the right times to swipe a base. He was successful in 13 of 14 stolen base attempts this season and is 35 of 44 (79.5%) lifetime. Nix has decent power for a utility infielder - .358 lifetime slugging pct. - and has topped double figures in home runs three times in his MLB career.

Unfortunately for Nix his inability to get on base enough keeps him from seeing more action. His best game as a Yankee might have been the next to last game he evey played for them. In Tuesday night's come from behind win against the Toronto Blue Jays, Nix tied the game in the 7th inning with a solo home run and then provided a walk off single in the bottom of the 9th. (He also went 1-2 with two walks and two runs scored in the day portion of Tuesday night's day/night twinbill.

Nix got to the plate just once against Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on Wednesday night. Unfortunately it wasn’t a softer knuckleball, but an 80-mph fastball that bore in on Nix, leaving him and his left hand no room to escape. He stayed in the game, but only momentarily before he told first base coach Mick Kelleher that he was in pain. Nix's hand appeared to be already swollen when television cameras zoomed in for a closer look.

Ironically, Nix probably would have been out of a job in the next week with Derek Jeter starting another rehab assignment with Scranton on Thursday evening. If he heals properly Nix would be able to rejoin the Yankees after the MLB rosters expand on September 1. Until then you'll just have to hold your breath every time a ball is hit to Eduardo Nunez or Mark Reynolds on the left side of the infield.

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