Phenomenal Start for Yankee Rookie Yangervis Solarte
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 10--The cycle of life can be seen in this year’s Yankee infield. One individual is about to depart while another is about to begin a life. Yankee captain Derek Jeter’s playing career in Major League Baseball (MLB) will end at the conclusion of this season while Yangervis Solarte made his debut in the majors last week.
The absence of Jeter will be noticed and commented upon throughout the nation.
On the other hand, Solarte began as a Yankee with little notice. At the age of 18, the Venezuelan signed a contract with the Minnesota Twins as a non-drafted free agent. In six minor league seasons, Solarte saw limited playing time.
In the winter of 2011, he was signed as a minor league free agent by the Texas Rangers. In two full seasons at the Rangers’ Triple A affiliate in Round Rock, Solarte batted an impressive .340 and .323 in respective seasons. His combined minor league batting average was .286 in 672 games.
The 26 year-old signed with the Yankees in January of this year as a minor league free agent. At the conclusion of the 2014 Spring Training, Solarte was moved to the Yankees roster in place of Eduardo Nuñez, who was traded to the Twins this week. Solarte earned his promotion by batting .429 (18 for 42) and driving in nine runs in 24 games.
Solarte made his major league debut on April 2 as a pinch hitter for Kelly Johnson. His first start in the majors on the following day was an auspicious occasion as he batted 3 for 3 and drew a walk in four trips to the plate. His was not perfect at the plate in his next two road games but hit safely twice in each. This achievement made him the first Yankee since Joe DiMaggio in 1936 with at least two hits in each of his first three starts in the majors.
In his four starts on the Yankees first road trip of the season, he hit safely 8 times in 15 at bats and drove in five runs.
The Yankee Stadium Opening Day start at third in front of a full house did not awe the neophyte major leaguer. He walked in his first trip to the plate and scored the first Yankee run of the afternoon. In his next at bat, he drove in a run with a single.
The rookie continued his hot batting in Tuesday afternoon’s humiliating 14-5 loss to Baltimore. He doubled home a run in the fourth, and in his next at bat, doubled again. According to Elias, Solarte is the first major leaguer since 1900 to hit, at least, six doubles in his first seven games.the two hits raised Solarte’s hitting streak to six games.
After Tuesday’s game, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi remarked, “I like what I see. He’s certainly taken advantage of this opportunity. We’re going to keep running him out there.”
The name of former Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez is not being currently heard at Yankee Stadium.