Jayson Nix started the 2012 season just trying to make the Yankees' roster.
He's now stepping in to fill the shoes of one of the Yankees' all-time greats.
With Derek Jeter out for the remainder of the playoffs with a fractured left ankle, Nix, a 30-year-old journeyman, will be taking over as the team's shortstop. Nix is playing in his first postseason and has just four at-bats thus far, going 2-for-4 in Game 4 against the Orioles.
Jeter texted Nix before Sunday's game and told him good luck and that he believes in the infielder. Jeter, and the rest of Nix's teammates, have expressed that they have confidence that Nix can come through. He batted .243 for the Yankees in 74 games this season but provided steady defense in the field. He started Game 2 and batted ninth, and was appreciative of his teammates' support.
"It means a whole lot. The only thing I think that I care to have in this game is to have the respect of my teammates," Nix said. To know that I have that feels good."
Watching Jeter from afar for his other seasons, Nix always admired him for the way he carries himself and the way he plays the game. He complimented Jeter for the respect he showed his teammates as well as his opponents. Playing with Jeter as a teammate this season only reinforced those notions for Nix.
"He's a superb guy off the field, a superb player and it's hard to put into words what I've learned but I've learned a whole lot," Nix said.
As he entered Sunday's game, Nix said he wasn't going to place any pressure on himself. He was going to treat it like a normal game and keep it simple and try and execute. Nix had to battle to just earn his way onto the Yankees' roster this year and he hopes to continue what's been a special year for him.
"I was able to come here and make the most of it and stick here and this year has been one of the most fun years I've had in the big leagues," Nix said. "To be able to come here and fill the role with this team and be around these group of guys has been very special."
With Jeter off the roster, the Yankees recalled Eduardo Nunez, who was originally left off the posteason roster. He will be the backup utility infielder.
"Be ready for anytime. Everybody has to play now, we have to win," Nunez said. "We know we lost Jeter but we have to keep going."