BOSTON -- With Brett Gardner sidelined, it is possible that Eduardo Nunez could play a key role in the Yankees' outfield defense, manager Joe Girardi said.
The club started veteran Raul Ibanez in front of the Green Monster in left field on Friday at Fenway Park, and Andruw Jones will likely play there on Saturday, but Girardi said that he has told Nunez to prepare for playing some outfield in the near future.
"It's possible," Girardi said. "We'll just have to see how guys are feeling. Without Gardy being here, the one guy that we probably have to pay the closest attention to is [Curtis] Granderson, because we don't necessarily have a true center fielder, besides Curtis. We're going to have to check with him as much as we can."
Girardi said that he instructed Nunez to begin taking fly balls in center field, but the manager did not rule out using Jones there as a backup, either. Jones won 10 Gold Glove Awards at the position but hasn't set foot in center field since 2010 with the White Sox.
"The concern for Andruw playing a lot of center field would be his knees," Girardi said.
Nunez committed a throwing error in the first inning of Thursday's 7-6 win over the Twins, opening the door for four unearned runs against Phil Hughes, but Girardi maintained confidence that Nunez will be able to help the Yankees in his current utility role.
"Our job is to continually improve him, and that's what we'll work on," Girardi said. "I have seen improvements. Now, you're going to say, 'Well, he's made two errors.' Yeah, but he hasn't compounded those errors. That's improvement, and our job is to clean up the rest of it."
Jeter passes idol Winfield with 3,111th hit
BOSTON -- Derek Jeter had a poster of Dave Winfield on his bedroom wall growing up in Kalamazoo, Mich., and it is strange for the Yankees' captain to consider that he has moved past his childhood hero on the all-time hits list.
"I look up to him," Jeter said. "To have your name next to his in anything -- in my opinion -- is an honor, especially considering I've looked up to him. It means a lot."
Jeter entered play on Friday with 3,110 career hits, tied with the Hall of Famer for 18th place on baseball's all-time list, and he collected No. 3,111 with a second-inning infield single off Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz.
Of the many iconic names that Jeter has surpassed, matching Winfield -- a lifetime .283 hitter who played 22 big league seasons, including nine with the Yankees, beginning in 1981 -- is among the most meaningful to the captain.
"He just seemed larger than life," Jeter said. "He was drafted in three sports, and I still think he's the only one to be drafted in all three sports. He gave back. I remember reading up on him. He's the reason I started my [Turn 2] Foundation. I just thought he was just a larger-than-life figure."
Jeter said that he and Winfield have formed a friendship after meeting during one of the shortstop's first seasons in New York. Jeter recalls exchanging basic pleasantries and not saying much before backing away from Winfield.
"I think when you're younger and you look up to someone, a lot of times, you almost don't want to meet him," Jeter said. "You don't want him to ruin it. But he definitely didn't ruin it. I've enjoyed all the time that we've spent together throughout the years."
Pettitte works five; higher level likely next
BOSTON -- Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte pitched five innings in an extended spring game against Pirates prospects on Friday in Tampa, Fla.
The Associated Press reported that the left-handed Pettitte expects to make his next start at a higher level, possibly for Double-A Trenton.
Pettitte permitted two earned runs on four hits to the Pittsburgh squad, working at the Yankees' Himes Avenue Minor League complex.
The 39-year-old Pettitte walked none and struck out five, throwing 58 of his 66 pitches for strikes, and he's on track to return to the Majors in mid-May.
At least temporarily, Yanks heavy on pitching
BOSTON -- The Yankees could keep a 13-man pitching staff through their current road trip, manager Joe Girardi said on Friday.
New York recalled right-hander Cody Eppley from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when outfielder Brett Gardner was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, and Girardi said that an extra hurler could stick through the series against the Rangers next week.
"I'm pretty comfortable right now with it, but my mood could change in a day or two," Girardi said. "When I talked to [general manager] Brian [Cashman], my thought was that we needed a 13th pitcher more than another outfielder."
The situation sticks the Yankees with a short three-man bench. For Friday's game at Boston, Girardi's only options off the bench were catcher Chris Stewart, infielder Eduardo Nunez and outfielder Andruw Jones.
Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda is scheduled to pitch two innings in an extended spring game on Saturday in Tampa, Girardi said. Pineda has been working back from right shoulder tendinitis.
On this date in 1937, the Yankees opened their 15th season in the Bronx with the right-field stands enlarged to three decks. The wooden bleachers were replaced by a concrete structure, with the distance to center field dropping from 490 feet to 461. On this date in 1939, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, 2-0, behind a shutout from Red Ruffing. An ailing Lou Gehrig went 0-for-4, and Ted Williams went 1-for-4 in his Major League debut -- the only game to feature both players.