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Eric Chavez is healthy (for now) and has secured a spot on the Yankees’ bench

Mar 28, 2011, 5:38 PM EDT

eric-chavez-yankees-spring Reuters

After contemplating retirement following four straight injury wrecked seasons Eric Chavez instead signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees and has parlayed a healthy, productive spring training into a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Chavez has hit .405 with a homer and four doubles in 42 at-bats this spring, which is remarkable less for the batting average and more for the fact that he averaged just 77 at-bats for the A’s during the past three seasons.

He’ll serve as the corner infield backup behind third baseman Alex Rodriguez and first baseman Mark Teixeira, while perhaps also seeing a little action at designated hitter in place of Jorge Posada. At this point a part-time role is ideal for Chavez and if healthy he could be an excellent reserve, but “if healthy” stopped meaning much with him years ago.

Chavez will receive $1.5 million upfront for making the team and can earn another $4 million in incentives based on playing time.

  1. mightymike1250 - Mar 28, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    I’m happy for Chavez. He seems to be one of the truly good guys of baseball who has just had more than his share of bad luck in recent years. And, of course, it won’t hurt the Yankees to have someone of his caliber coming off the bench.

    • Ari Collins - Mar 28, 2011 at 7:07 PM

      My fanhood of Eric Chavez and comeback stories in general are at war with my team’s rivalry with his team.

      I don’t mind it when the Yankees sign someone I don’t like, but it’s frustrating when I’ve had to stop rooting for certain players. A partial recent list: Sabathia, Abreu, Swisher, Johnson (Nick and Randy), Vazquez, Brown. Glad they didn’t get Lee.

      Anyone else have similar experiences with players acquired by division rivals of your favorite team?

  2. yankeesfanlen - Mar 28, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Jorge Vazquez has had an equally strong performance so far, and is ready if (for now) comes about.

    • uyf1950 - Mar 28, 2011 at 5:55 PM

      My friend, Vazquez had a great spring. The problem for him was/is that he is strictly a backup 1st baseman. Chavez can man both 1st and 3rd. Vazquez now heads back to the minors and waits to be called upon which I have no doubt will happen at some point this summer. Regardless of who the Yankees picked they both played very, very well.

  3. trevorb06 - Mar 28, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    I’d totally love to see Chavez have a great season as a part-time player and staying healthy all season! He was always one of my favorites. Who knows, if he can pull that off he might be a starter next year for Astros, Orioles, Pirates or Royals on a one year deal. Now if Prior can make the big league club as a reliever and stay healthy that’ll be incredible too!

    • yankeesfanlen - Mar 28, 2011 at 5:56 PM

      I’m rooting for Prior too. Anything to keep THE FAT TOAD off the mound.

  4. trevorb06 - Mar 28, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    On a side note, isn’t it funny how the Yankees have all these players that they probably wish they had 5-10 years ago? Colon, Millwood, Garcia, Prior, Chavez. These were some damn good ball players in their healthy days.

    • yankeesfanlen - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:00 PM

      Yeah, at this point we’re lesing, not buying. However, there’s also a specific story as to why they were Yankees at a certain time, mostly lack of need, which is entirely happenstance. Kind of a 3-D world out there in baseball land.

      • yankeesfanlen - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:01 PM

        Rather, why they WERE NOT Yankees at a certain time.

    • bigharold - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:01 PM

      So was Nick Johnson.

      This has Nick Johnson part two written all over it. Should have went with farm hands. Chavez just in the way of young talent.

      • Ari Collins - Mar 28, 2011 at 7:02 PM

        If the Yankees had a promising young corner infielder, which they don’t (unless you count Montero), then he’d be blocked by A-Rod and Tex, not a backup corner infielder.

  5. spudchukar - Mar 28, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Generally veterans handle bench roles much better than rookies. This way Vasquez continues to mature, get playing time, and hone his skills. When the Yanks realize they are going to have to part with some of their young talent to procure legitimate starters, either Vasquez is part of the package, or more likely Montero is, which opens the door for Vasquez, especially if this is Posada’s final year in Pinstripes.

  6. APBA Guy - Mar 28, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    I’m glad nobody has done the “if he stays healthy all year…” thing with this Chavez post. Just as a reminder to fans, Chavez has appeared in 154 games total in the last 4 years, averaging 43.5 games/year over that period.

    Over/under says May 15th. Anybody for the over?

  7. APBA Guy - Mar 28, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    Oops. Math. Should be 38.5 games/year over the past 4 years.

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