The search is on for emergency help in Yankee camp, and the most unheralded candidate to emerge so far is a 5-foot-7 Cuban defector named Ronnier Mustelier, whom baseball people describe as a natural-born hitter.
“This kid’s going to hit, you can see that,” hitting coach Kevin Long was saying on Sunday. “The ability is there.”
Brian Cashman put it in more artistic context.
“He’s got a gift,” said the Yankee GM. “He impacts the ball with the bat differently than others do.”
Mustelier’s bat has the Yankees intrigued, to say the least. As a result, though Mustelier came to spring training to compete for a job primarily as an outfielder, Joe Girardi worked him out at third base on Saturday, and played him there for 31/2 uneventful innings on Sunday against the Blue Jays.
“We’re going to see what he looks like there,” said Girardi. “In talking to him, third base is where he played the most in Cuba.”
With that, Girardi paused, then echoed the sentiment of Long, Cashman and seemingly everyone who has seen him this spring: “The kid can hit, no doubt about it.”
First things first: At age 28, Mustelier isn’t really a kid. And for that matter, he’s not small, either. Short, yes, but at 210 pounds, he’s built like a tank, and hits with power, as he showed with an opposite-field home run to right-center field on Saturday.


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