On Saturday, Derek Jeter sat out with a heel problem while Alex Rodriguez, recuperating from a sore hip, DH'ed.
That left Ramiro Pena (pictured talking to Rodriguez) at shortstop and Kevin Russo at third base.
Pena, 24, is hitting .190/.235/.206 on the season in 63 at-bats while Russo, 25, isn't much better with a .196/.260/.239 line. The Yankees, for their $206 million payroll, have gone cheap with backup bench infielders and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports feels the Yankees need to be on the hunt for better solutions.
While the squad isn't looking for help currently, Rosenthal looks ahead to September and thinks New York may need a body ready. With the AL East race as tight as it is, the Yankees may not be able to afford to rest him in September. As he's battling hip issues, he may be relegated to DH and Pena or Russo at third base for any length of time is not palatable. For Jeter's part, he's no spring chicken and is on pace for one of the poorest seasons in his career.
Rosenthal has trouble naming viable candidates, however. Omar Infante of the Braves and Macier Izturis of the Angels won't be available, while the Royals' Willie Bloomquist and Toronto's John McDonald don't represent a significant offensive upgrade. The same is true for Jayson Nix, recently designated for assignment by the White Sox. The Cubs' Ryan Theriot is a possibility if his slump continues, and Geoff Blum could be had -- except Blum has no recent extended time at short.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, however, has said that Bloomquist is one of the best utility players in the game and Blum at the very least would be a solid option at third base.
In addition, the Milwaukee Brewers have Craig Counsell, who has the defense and the offense that could do well as a backup in New York. The Arizona Diamondbacks could dangle Augie Ojeda, although the 35-year-old is having a horrific season at the plate, albeit in just 30 at-bats.
The Yankees are expected to pursue a hitter as they near the trade deadline, but Rosenthal has it right: the team should be proactive and acquire a solid utility infielder to protect against any injury impacting the stretch drive. Sometimes, pennats are won and lost by the obsure players.
-- Evan Brunell
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