TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Eric Chavez feels heathly and is ready to compete for a part-time role with the New York Yankees.
Injuries limited Chavez to 33 games last year with Oakland after he played in just 23 in 2008 and eight in 2009. He recently agreed to a minor league contract with New York.
Chavez has had five operations since September 2007, including three on his shoulder and two on his back. He felt spasms on both sides of his neck last year after a spring training drill in which a minor leaguer crashed into his right shoulder.
“The back is stable. Shoulders really progressing over the last few weeks,” Chavez said Friday. “Swinging the bat has been going really well for me, which really has been my downfall the last few years.”
Chavez took batting practice, fielded grounders and ran in the outfield during a workout before spring training at the Yankees’ minor league complex. He could provide New York with a veteran backup to third baseman Alex Rodriguez, first baseman Mark Teixeira and designated hitter Jorge Posada.
“It’s more realistic to think that I can play two or three ballgames a week than five or six,” Chavez said. “So, I’m just going to try and keep myself healthy and show them I can swing the bat a little bit, and see what happens. All I’ve got to do is come in here and prove I can play a few times a week.”
Chavez won AL Gold Gloves at third base with Oakland from 2001-06 and has spent all 13 of his major league seasons with the Athletics. He seriously considered retirement this winter.
“I didn’t know going into the offseason what my options would be or who would be interested,” Chavez said. “Once teams started calling and we started talking about doing some workouts, that really kind of started to motivate me. It really changed my mind into coming back and, at least, trying to change the scenery from Oakland and see what I could do. I’ve got a new heartbeat over here and hoping to energize myself, and the key is to stay healthy.”
Notes: Curtis Granderson also joined the early workouts in Tampa. The outfielder spent 10 days during the offseason as a baseball ambassador in New Zealand. “It’s great,” Granderson said. “I highly recommend it.”… LHP Neal Cotts, a nonroster invitee coming off elbow ligament replacement surgery in July 2009, threw live batting practice for the first time.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.