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Yangervis Solarte makes Yankees' Opening Day roster; Eduardo Nunez optioned to Triple-A

Team No Nunez has prevailed. Solarte makes the Opening Day roster!

Yangervis Solarte played himself onto the Yankees' Opening Day roster with an incredibly impressive spring training performance, beating out Eduardo Nunez for the final spot on the 25-man roster. The move was announced this afternoon after all other spots on the team had already been filled prior to Saturday's rainout against the Marlins. Solarte and Nunez were left in limbo last night until the decision could be made. Nunez has now been optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

To get Solarte onto the 40-man roster, which currently sits at capacity, the Yankees will need some sort of corresponding move before Tuesday's game against the Astros in Houston. It's possible that some kind of trade is pulled off before then, otherwise someone is likely to simply be DFA'd. There aren't a lot of obvious names that you'd think the Yankees would be in a hurry to part with considering that Ichiro Suzuki and Nunez are probably the two that deserve it most. Neither seems very likely to be dispensed with entirely at this point. It could be bad news for Zoilo Almonte or Cesar Cabral. The latter seems like the better bet, if it came down to those two.

It was reasonable to believe that the Yankees would go with Nunez over the unproven Solarte, simply because of their completely unfounded affection for the error-prone infielder. For all the talk of his potential and bat speed, Nunez had really done nothing to deserve the rope he'd received. He was more than outplayed by Solarte and the Yankees made the right decision, for which we are all grateful.

From 'The Pinstripe Alley'.

To this I say: 'Amen'

Edited by sabugo

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Me neither. I had given up hope on this matter. Finally they saw the light.
Only took them about 4 years.

They could trade him for a reliever with actual MLB experience.

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Derek Jeter leaves Yankees' spring training complex for final time

In an effort to take in as much of his final season as possible, Jeter seemed slightly disappointed Saturday’s game was canceled, though not before he was honored by the Yankees and the city of Tampa during a pregame ceremony.
marlins-yankees-spring-baseball.jpgDerek Jeter's final spring game at George M. Steinbrenner field in Tampa gets rained out.

TAMPA — Derek Jeter walked into Legends Field more than 18 years ago as a fresh-faced rookie filled with hopes and dreams.

Saturday, he walked out of the same ballpark — now known as George M. Steinbrenner Field — one last time as an active player, completing the final spring training of his legendary career.

“It hasn’t really set in,” Jeter said before leaving the stadium. “It’s odd to think that I won’t be back. I’ve been coming here since ’96; the first year it opened was my first year. It will be a little different; it will probably be a little more different next year when spring training starts. Right now, I’m just looking forward to getting to Houston.”

The Bombers’ final game of the spring was washed out as heavy rain blanketed Tampa on Saturday, bringing Jeter’s spring to an end nine innings earlier than expected.

In an effort to take in as much of his final season as possible, Jeter seemed slightly disappointed Saturday’s game was canceled, though not before he was honored by the Yankees and the city of Tampa during a pregame ceremony.

“I’m pretty sure most of the guys in there were hoping that it got rained out so we could just get out of here,” Jeter said. “I just tried to not look forward to the end of it. Most people look forward to the end of spring about two weeks into it, but I just tried to take it day in and day out. That’s what I’ll remember.”

A highlight video that opened with images of a teenage Jeter playing rookie ball was shown on the scoreboard, then Jeter was presented with a key to the city, the first of many gifts he’ll be receiving over the next six-plus months.

“I live here, so now I can do whatever I want when I’m in Tampa,” Jeter said with a grin. “I don’t know how long it unlocks the doors for. It always feels good to be recognized. I spend a lot of time here, I live here in the offseason, so I thought it was very nice.”

marlins-yankees-spring-baseball.jpgJeter shares a laugh with bench coach Tony Pena (c.) and newest Yankee Carlos Beltran (r.) as his final spring training comes to an end.

Jeter finished the spring 7-for-51 (.137) with one extra-base hit and two RBI, but the 39-year-old was encouraged by the way he feels — both physically and at the plate — with the opener only three days away.

“I feel good; that was the most important thing,” Jeter said. “Spring training is a progression, both physically and being game-ready. I feel I’m where I want to be right now.”

Joe Girardi was pleased with Jeter’s work this spring, overlooking the stats and focusing on the way he moved on the bases and in the field.

“I think that his average that will be something that will be talked about, but for me, I think it was seeing him come out and play healthy going back to back, being physically able to do it, not having to force his running,” Girardi said. “It was hard to watch last year. As much as he said he was ready to go, he really wasn’t.”

Jeter isn’t the only one ready to go. With the exception of Brendan Ryan, the rest of the team broke camp without any health issues, a drastic change from a year ago.

The new additions to the lineup such as Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran have made a seamless transition into pinstripes while the entire pitching staff performed well for the past month.

Jeter likes what he’s seen from his teammates to this point, but he knows that none of it means anything come Tuesday. “Everyone tries to have predictions of where they feel each team is going to finish every year, but you have to perform on the field,” Jeter said. “I like the guys that we have. We’re healthy for the most part leaving spring training; that’s always important.

“The key for most teams is to stay healthy, but you’ve got to do your job on the field. It’s a long season and it takes a little while before you really get a great feel for what the team is capable of doing, but I’m pretty optimistic about this group.”

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Derek Jeter eyes last title as Yankees start new season with altered cast

The last time the Yankees missed the postseason, they went out and spent $423.5 million to bring CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett to the Bronx. The trio helped lead the Bombers to a championship in that 2009 season, a feat the Yankees are hoping to repeat with this winter’s additions of Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.

yankees-panama.jpgOn deck for Derek Jeter is retirement, but he still has one more big season to play.

HOUSTON – The Yankees worked out at Minute Maid Park Monday, stepping on the same field where their disappointing 2013 campaign ended.

The faces are much different, and so is the attitude. Instead of talking about myriad injuries and retirements, the Yankees are brimming with confidence, eager to get the season started as they seek a return to October baseball.

OK, so there will be some retirement talk this season, too. But Derek Jeter’s anticipation for Tuesday’s opener against the Astros has nothing to do with his farewell tour and everything to do with his quest for one last ring.

“You want to get back to the playoffs,” Jeter said. “That’s what you play for.”

The last time the Yankees missed the postseason, they went out and spent $423.5 million to bring CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett to the Bronx. The trio helped lead the Bombers to a championship in that 2009 season, a feat the Yankees are hoping to repeat with this winter’s additions of Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.

yankees-astros-opener.jpgThe Yankees spend big to bring in Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka.

“I know what we went through, and how tough of a year it was last year in terms of not being able to make the playoffs,” Sabathia said. “It was disappointing. You work extra hard to put yourself in a position to win games and put yourself back where you want to be. That starts off with trying to win the division.

“The ultimate goal every year is to win the World Series. That’s always in the back of your mind.”

It was on the forefront of Brian Cashman’s mind as the Yankees shelled out big money to fill holes in the rotation, the outfield and behind the plate.

An offense that ranked 10th in the American League in runs scored and 13th in OPS last season has been retooled, giving the Yankees great expectations. “Our goal was to try to attack every area of weakness,” Cashman said. “We had a good offensive balance last year, but we never had a chance to run it out there. If those guys didn’t get hurt, we would have been one of the top offensive teams in the game. But we lost everybody.”

Indeed, the Yankees were without Jeter, Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson for significant time last season, but with A-Rod serving a season-long suspension, Granderson suiting up for the Mets and Robinson Cano taking his talents to Seattle, Cashman is banking on his new acquisitions to carry the load.

“We just addressed as much as we could,” Cashman said. “There’s no doubt we have a lot of talent. Some of those guys we’re going to count on to stay healthy. It’s just a new group of guys. Hopefully they can perform to their track records.”

Can Ellsbury, Tanaka, McCann and Beltran be this year’s Sabathia, Teixeira and Burnett? That’s a pretty lofty bar to set, but even Joe Girardi believes the comparison is a fair one.

“I think it has a lot of the same feel,” Girardi said. “I think there’s a lot of high expectation with the names that we’ve added. We addressed a lot of situations because of all the things that we went (through) last year, and it’s a lot of the same feelings.”

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Yankees’ Solarte continues stunning rise in first start
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New York Yankees' Yangervis Solarte

HOUSTON — The Yankees’ third base situation is hardly settled.

Kelly Johnson has yet to prove he can play there every day and Yangervis Solarte never started a game in the majors prior to Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Astros.

But for one night, it worked, as Solarte made the plays defensively and found a way to collect three hits and a walk.

“There were times I dreamed big for my debut,” Solarte said through an interpreter after the Yankees avoided an embarrassing three-game sweep to the Astros to start the season. “When you see players like [Derek] Jeter, you expect big things for yourself.”

Solarte singled and scored in the second as the Yankees took their first lead of the season and followed that by turning a shallow fly to left into a double when it eluded a diving Robbie Grossman. He scored again later in the inning on a Jeter single.

In the seventh, Solarte picked up his first RBI in unconventional fashion. With two outs, he was fooled by a changeup and popped the ball up. Catcher Carlos Corporan seemed to be under it, but backed away at the last second, allowing the ball to drop for a single, as Ichiro Suzuki raced around from second to score.

Solarte finished his night by avoiding a broken face, when he snagged a liner from Jose Altuve.

“It almost hit my teeth,” Solarte said.

The game was a continuation of a stunning rise for Solarte, a 26-year-old who bounced around the minors and appeared destined to stay there with Eduardo Nunez ticketed for the utility-infield role. But when Nunez couldn’t shake the inconsistency that plagued him throughout his career and Solarte impressed with a solid spring at the plate and versatility in the field, he found himself on the roster after spending the last two seasons in the Rangers organization.

Solarte made his debut Wednesday as a pinch hitter, then started at third Thursday.

“He had quite a night,” Joe Girardi said. “He seemed to be on the ball all night.”

And he was smart enough to talk to Jeter in the infield.

“He just told me to keep going,” Solarte said in English. “Vamos, vamos.”

On Thursday, Solarte listened.

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Tanaka.jpg

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 4: Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees delivers the first pitch of his MLB career in the first inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 4, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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Pressure is on Pineda in Yanks debut
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Michael Pineda

The ocean of money, insane hype and unreasonable expectations fell on Masahiro Tanaka’s head.

While Friday night’s starter against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre is being counted on to bolster the Yankees’ rotation, Michael Pineda is equally important to how this season shakes out.

Tanaka cost the Yankees’ $175 million and will knock down $22 million of it this season. Pineda cost the Yankees Jesus Montero, who has turned into a bust, and will make $538,000 this season.

Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) for Rakuten in Japan last year. Pineda? He appeared in 10 minor league games after missing all of 2012 due to tricky shoulder surgery.

So why is Pineda considered a key? Because the Yankees have spent two years attempting to get him right, and they still believe a healthy Pineda is an above-average major league pitcher.

Saturday against the muscular Blue Jays Pineda makes his Yankees’ debut, but there was a time when not everybody was convinced Saturday would arrive for the 6-foot-7, 265-pound right-hander from the Dominican Republic.

“I had questions,” manager Joe Girardi said “When we watched what he went through there were questions about when we would get him back. Would we get the Michael we had seen before in Seattle with the good slider and the velocity?”

One night after moving Alfonso Soriano from designated hitter to his preferred left-field position, with the hope of getting the right-handed hitter going, Girardi left Soriano out of Friday night’s lineup for what turned into a 7-3 Yankees win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

“He is a little off timing wise,’’ Girardi said of Soriano, who was hitless in three games against Houston and whiffed four times. “It’s not really a concern of mine, I know he will get going. He has always been a streaky guy.’’

Soriano to the bench wasn’t Girardi’s only move.

“I had a lineup kind of made up in my mind, and I changed a little bit because of what we went through,’’ said Girardi, whose club didn’t get to the team hotel until 6:30 a.m. Friday. “I made a few adjustments but all these guys will be back in there [saturday].’’

Girardi and others described the flight from Houston as scary because of lightning that filled the cabin and storms that bounced the plane.

“The first half-hour it was OK and then for the next 45 minutes it was knuckleball express, as bad as I have seen,’’ Girardi said.

Joining Soriano on the bench were Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts, who entered the game at second base after Mark Teixeira strained his right hamstring and had to leave in the bottom of the second inning. Dean Anna started at short and Yangervis Solarte at second before moving to third when Kelly Johnson took Teixeira’s place at first.

Dick Groch, the scout who signed Jeter, was on hand Friday night and chatted with Jeter before the game.

Groch, a special assistant to Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, will be following the Yankees, leading to speculation at some point the Yankees will be interested in Milwaukee third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who will turn 36 in June.

Ramirez, a career .286 hitter with 354 homers and an .846 OPS, makes $16 million this year. There is a mutual option for $14 million next season with a $4 million option.

Anna was tagged with a nickname by Girardi before the infielder started in his first major league game.

“Raccoon,’’ Anna said of what Girardi calls him. “It’s because of the nose. I have a little bigger nose. It’s all good, all fun.’’

Anna, acquired from the Padres during the winter for pitcher Ben Paulis, spends the offseason working with kids at the Bo Jackson Foundation outside of Chicago.

Jeter, who didn’t play Friday, needs one hit to tie Paul Molitor (3,319) for eighth place on MLB’s all-time hits list and fourth place on the all-time AL hits list.

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Yankees hurler Dellin Betances gets to show his stuff

image.JPG

Yankees' Dellin Betances warms up his arm during spring training.

HOUSTON - Contrary to the overwhelmingly negative reaction, there were some bright spots from the Yankees' season-opening loss Tuesday.

Among them was the performance of Dellin Betances, whose brilliant spring earned him a bullpen spot with the Yankees.

The 6-8 righthander pitched a scoreless seventh on Tuesday, retiring the Astros in order. The 26-year-old, whose fastball topped out at 97 mph in the spring when he posted a 0.73 ERA, struck out leadoff man Dexter Fowler and the next batter, Robbie Grossman. He got Jose Altuve, 2-for-3 to that point, to ground to second to end the inning.

"Really good," Joe Girardi said Wednesday. "He threw strike after strike after strike and got ahead of hitters and finished them with his curveball. It was really good to see."

Same old, same old

Girardi ran out the same lineup Wednesday that he did on Tuesday, a rarity in 2013 when injuries hit early in the spring and never let up.

"I'm not so sure how many times I did that last year," Girardi said. "It's nice. Obviously the key is to stay healthy and if we're able to do that you're going to see this lineup a lot."

The lineup Tuesday and Wednesday featured Jacoby Ellsbury leading off, with Derek Jeter hitting second and Brett Gardner batting seventh.

No progress for Ryan

It has been a slow-go for SS Brendan Ryan, out much since March 21 with a pinched nerve in his back, during his rehab in Tampa so far. "He's not doing too much," Girardi said. "He's not really doing any baseball activities. It's more the stretching and rehabbing."

Ryan's injury opened the door for switch-hitting Yangervis Solarte, who can play second, short and third, to make the club after an outstanding spring.

Good luck with that

Girardi said Dean Anna, who won one of the reserve infield spots, would be his emergency third string catcher.

"He doesn't know it but [he would be]," Girardi said with a smile.

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A-Rod’s absence not fazing Yankees
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The Yankees are doing just fine without A-Rod.

A year ago, the Yankees couldn’t escape Alex Rodriguez’s shadow.

Whether it was his involvement in the Biogenesis investigation and ensuing suspension and appeal, his rehab from hip surgery or his midseason return, the third baseman was a seemingly never-ending distraction.

That included Opening Day, when Rodriguez declined to be included in pregame introductions on the field.

This season, he has no such decisions to make and to listen to the 2014 Yankees, the suspended third baseman isn’t at the front of everyone’s mind.

When asked in Houston if he had “spoken to Alex recently,” CC Sabathia said, “Who?”

It was an honest — and understandable — answer, since this team has its own concerns and has almost grown accustomed to being without Rodriguez, who wasn’t around for much of last season recovering from hip surgery and is banned from playing this entire season and playoffs after appealing Major League Baseball’s suspension following the conclusion of the Biogenesis investigation and getting his 211-game ban reduced.

“Since we missed him so much last year, it hasn’t been that awkward,” Sabathia said. “You just keep going on. I mean, we didn’t have [Derek] Jeter for most of last year and we dealt with it. You miss a guy like that, but you find a way to keep going. There’s nothing else you can do about it.”

Jeter and manager Joe Girardi were two members of the organization who said they had kept in touch with Rodriguez since an arbitrator gave him the year-long ban, but both declined to discuss what they discussed.

General manager Brian Cashman said he hadn’t spoken with Rodriguez and added he was “focused on this team and moving forward.”

“Once you get into the thick of things, you tend to focus on what’s in front of you,” Mark Teixeira said.

As for Jeter and Girardi, they each likened Rodriguez’s absence to that of former teammates who have retired.

“It’s the same thing as with Jorge [Posada] or Andy [Pettitte],” the manager said. “You’re used to seeing them every day and it’s different when they’re not around. It’s just weird.”

The main difference, of course, is that both Posada and Pettitte were in Tampa during spring training and will be in The Bronx Monday and the team saw Rivera when the Yankees played in Panama.

Rodriguez has kept a low profile in recent months and his spokesman said he intended to keep it that way. Last year, Ryan Braun visited his teammates at Miller Park while serving his 65-game suspension for his Biogenesis ties, but Rodriguez so far has no plans to do the same thing with the Yankees.

His most memorable moment of last season’s opener came during an odd, hastily arranged press conference in front of the Yankees clubhouse that day, when Rodriguez said, “I don’t need to be introduced to feel like a part of this team. I’ll tell you what. When I get introduced, I want to be on the field and not look back.”

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I just read that the Yankees traded Nunez do the Twins for some A-ball pitcher. How can you not love the Twins? First they take Hughes, now Nunez!

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That's because they are the Twins. I have been a fan my whole life and they make bone-head moves. They could have traded Morneau years ago for something good and did not. And lets not forget the Matt Capps trade for Ramos........

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’Hiro comes home: Tanaka set for Stadium debut
bba_yankees_blue_jays.jpg?w=720&h=480&cr
Masahiro Tanaka throws his first major league pitch against Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera. Cabrera went yard two pitches later.

Masahiro Tanaka watched Ivan Nova get knocked out in the fourth inning and the Yankees get knocked around 14-5 by the Orioles on Tuesday.

Needing a bounce-back performance, the Yankees will turn to the high-priced, high-profile Japanese import for his first home start Wednesday night.

“Win. That’s what I expect,’’ catcher Francisco Cervelli said. “Because he plays on this team and we play to win, every day. That’s our mentality. … We move on, and he’s a great pitcher. He’s going to be fine.’’

After watching the pomp and pageantry of Monday’s home opener, and soaking in the reception he got from The Bronx crowd, Tanaka said, “It felt like home.’’

The 25-year-old right-hander arrived from Japan in January, won his Major League debut Friday in Toronto, and — after being cheered in the home opener — aims for his first victory in pinstripes.

“If you listen to the crowd, yes, of course it makes me feel at home,” Tanaka said through his interpreter.

Despite the Bombers’ seemingly trying to manage expectations and designating Tanaka their No. 4 starter, he’ll have all eyes on him Wednesday. That’s what happens when they acquire a pitcher who hasn’t lost a regular-season game since 2012 and shower him with a seven-year, $155 million deal.

Tanaka was solid in his debut, allowing three runs in seven innings. He was only the seventh big league pitcher since 1900 to win his debut with at least eight strikeouts and no walks in at least seven frames. After allowing a leadoff homer to Melky Cabrera and two more runs in the second, Tanaka found his rhythm and threw five scoreless innings.

“I understand what I did wrong last outing. I’ll make those adjustments and go into the game [Wednesday],’’ Tanaka said. “For me, it’s all about the mechanics of how I pitch. So, that said, I know where I need to fix.’’

It says something about Tanaka that after such an auspicious debut, he was focused on fixing the few things he did wrong. He’s clearly a pitching perfectionist.

“Absolutely,’’ said catcher Brian McCann, behind the plate for Tanaka’s debut in Toronto. “I thought he pitched really well. He hung a split to Melky that got hit out. But after that, he didn’t hang many more splits. So that’s why he is who he is. That’s why he’s had the success that’s he’s had pitching. He’s a perfectionist, and he expects to be perfect.’’

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Yankees place Francisco Cervelli on disabled list

While the Sox manager got tossed after replay overturned the original out call at first, Cervelli strained his hamstring on the play, and will head to the disabled list for what likely will be at least a month.

041314yankees00bk_91927883.jpg?w=720&h=4

Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli sits on the ground after a fielder's choice in which he injured his leg.

John Farrell wasn’t the only loser on Francisco Cervelli’s close play at first Sunday night.

While the Sox manager got tossed after replay overturned the original out call at first, Cervelli strained his hamstring on the play, and will head to the disabled list for what likely will be at least a month.

The Yankees won’t make any roster moves until Tuesday, but it’s likely Austin Romine, who was optioned to Triple-A on April 9, will be recalled.

While the news was bad on Cervelli, X-rays taken Sunday night on Brian McCann's right hand were negative. The catcher, who signed a five-year, $85 million deal in the offseason, was hit on his hand Sunday night by a ball that first hit Red Sox batter A.J. Pierzynski.

SEE YA

RHP Shane Green was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Sunday’s game. The Yankees will likely add an infielder to the roster Tuesday, possibly Scott Sizemore, who entered the week hitting .344/.436/.500 at Triple-A. . . . Carlos Beltran was named AL Player of the Week after hitting .423 with four doubles, three homers and six RBI.

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Yankees call up Scott Sizemore, John Ryan Murphy
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Scott Sizemore joins the Yankees' infield mix.

The Yankees had hoped not to have a repeat of last season, when their roster featured an almost constantly revolving carousel of injured players and borderline journeymen.

They aren’t having much luck.

Infielder Scott Sizemore and catcher John Ryan Murphy were recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday and will be in The Bronx for Wednesday’s day-night doubleheader against the Cubs.

Francisco Cervelli’s Grade 2 right hamstring strain suffered Sunday night will cost him at least two months, after he was placed on the 60-day disabled list to open up a 40-man roster spot for Sizemore. Right-hander Shane Greene was sent down to Triple-A on Monday.

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