With a hint of luck, Solarte was able to ensure manager Joe Girardi that he made the correct decision in allowing the 26-year-old rookie to take on the utility role for the Yankees. Solarte finished the night 3-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI against the Houston Astros.
As stated during the YES network broadcast, Solarte was living his childhood dream and had the entire starting lineup sign a lineup card for him before the game. However, his play was anything but childish. The Venezuelan rookie started at third base and seemed to be very comfortable at the position with two putouts.
But it was at the plate where Solarte proved he is a potential everyday starter. A single in his first at bat that moved Ichiro Suzuki from first to third set up Brett Gardner‘s eventual RBI single. A double in his next at bat allowed the captain Derek Jeter to grab his first RBI of 2014 and gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead. Solarte caught a break in his third at bat when miscommunication between the Astros’ catcher and pitcher allowed a routine pop fly to fall carelessly to the ground, scoring Suzuki.
Solarte showed he can get the bat on the ball and be serviceable in the field, which is all the information Girardi needed in his first start to give him security. He gives the Yankees something the team has not had in recent years — a versatile player who can play almost anywhere and bring a little flare off the bench
With a few more productive outings, I would not be surprised to see Solarte eventually take over the third base job with a little more regularity. He has the tools to be a solid major-leaguer, plus he doesn’t have steep competition with Kelly Johnson. Brendan Ryan still does not have a timetable on his return, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Solarte starting at short fairly soon due to the Yankees’ 13 consecutive games to start the season. It’ll be interesting to see how much of an X-factor the guy who entered Spring Training with a minor-league contract will be.