Solarte Stars In Yankees Home Opener Win • Latino Sports


Solarte Stars In Yankees Home Opener Win


Yankee Stadium, the Bronx- The New York Yankees had much to celebrate in a 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles in their home opener on a cold and drizzly Monday afternoon.

There was the excitement and buildup over Derek Jeter’s final Yankee Stadium Opening Day game, and the commotion it stirred with the reunion of the core four [known as Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Jeter] participating in a dual ceremonial first pitch that had the crowd on its feet in anticipation of Jeter’s first at-bat.

The Yankees revamped lineup was also cause of speculation and gossip concerning the abilities of newly acquired center-fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, right-fielder and former New York Met Carlos Beltran, new catcher Brian McCann, and former Oriole second baseman Brian Roberts.

One new face that was not getting the hushed tones of admiration, or the yelping shouts of applause was new third baseman and Venezuelan minor league journeyman Yangervis Solarte.

Originally a product of the Minnesota Twins farm system at the age of 18, Solarte began his career at the bottom rung of the minor league ladder when he debuted in the 2006 Dominican Summer League. Never making it higher than Double-A ball with Minnesota, Solarte, spent the past two seasons in the highly competitive Pacific Coast League with a Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rang theers.

With Eduardo Nunez, once considered the future at third base for New York now on Twins, Solarte has a chance to shine in Pinstripes, and has been making the most of it. In 24 Spring Training Games, Solarte showed flashes of power and plenty of contact, batting .429, with two home runs and nine RBIs. In his first six games as a Yankee, Solarte is hitting .450 with nine hits, six RBIs and four runs scored.

In the bottom of the third inning on Monday against the O’s, Solarte scored the first run of the game after a walk by Baltimore starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez [0-2] was followed by double-play by Jeter that enabled Solarte to score from third for a 1-0 Yankees lead.

Solarte left his mark again in the bottom of the fourth inning, when his RBI single to right-field scored Alfonso Soriano from second base providing the Bombers a 2-1 advantage.

Encouraged to speak English in the clubhouse to the press following the game, Solarte had his questions translated into Spanish, but with a mixture of animated hand gestures and soft English, Solarte painted a vivid picture of where he’s been and what it is like to be the starting third baseman for the most recognizable team in professional sports.

“When I walked in, [I thought] wow I’m sitting between these two,” exclaimed Solarte, as he spread his arms wide apart to show the names on the two lockers on either side of him belonging to Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki. Adding, “Especially since I played hard, [now] I get all this.”

For Solarte, being a Yankee after toiling eight years in the minors is an experience he is still getting used to. For one, he was unaccustomed to the daily game tradition of the bleacher creatures shouting the names of each player until they wave back or tip their cap in recognition at the start of the game.

“Initially, I didn’t hear it, and I got confused when they said [Brett] Gardner, and then told it was my name because it sounds similar to Yangervis,” said Solarte. “[Francisco] Cervelli told me beforehand. I feel bad that I disappointed the fans.” Solarte then held up two hands and said he might have to wave them both on Tuesday’s game to make up for it.

As for the saga concerning Jeter in his final season, Solarte felt privileged to play alongside the Yankees’ captain. “I saw him [Jeter] since I was little. Never thought I would play with him. He’s just such a great example.” Solarte said that he learns one new thing from Jeter everyday, and when asked what he learned on Monday, Solarte talked about defense. “When they hit a very low grounder, to stay low, to move my feet quickly like it’s nothing. I’m always low [now], trying to look at his feet [Jeter’s].”

Should Solarte continue his hot start, it will only be a matter of time before others will be imitating his legwork instead.

About Oren Vourman

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