TAMPA, Fla. — No one via the Yankees had to tell Miguel Andujar he might need to find a brand new home on the baseball diamond This kind of year.
Andujar, the runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2018, entered last season as one of baseball’s brightest young stars. although on March 31, just three games into the 2019 season, he tore cartilage in his throwing shoulder on a seemingly innocuous slide into third base, an injury which might force him out of nearly the entire rest of the season.
As he underwent several months of rehabilitation after surgery, Andujar watched third baseman Gio Urshela, a relatively unknown reserve player, seize control of his old spot in addition to also become one of the saving graces of the Yankees’ injury-ravaged 2019 campaign with his stout defense in addition to also breakout hitting.
Andujar, 24, already known more for his bat than his glove, could foretell what This kind of all meant. So in August, with his teammates surging toward an A.L. East title in addition to also a deep playoff run, Andujar approached his agent with an idea: the idea was time to learn some brand new positions, maybe left field in addition to also first base.
“We realized which we had to work in addition to also be ready This kind of year to give my best wherever on the field in addition to also support the team,” Andujar said in a recent interview.
the idea was a humbling realization for a player who so recently seemed poised to lock down the Yankees’ third base spot for years to come. although by the time Yankees Manager Aaron Boone met with Andujar at the team’s facility within the Dominican Republic last month in addition to also mentioned those two brand new positions, Andujar said he was way ahead of his manager.
“When we first broached the subject with him, he was excited about the idea in addition to also even told us he had started off to do some things on his own,” Boone said.
So Andujar spent the fall in addition to also winter not only rehabilitating the injured labrum in his right shoulder although also working using a private trainer here in Tampa to improve his agility so he could handle third in addition to also first base, in addition to also left field. (He had also worked the previous winter in addition to also spring to better his shaky defense at third base.)
He began taking ground balls in addition to also fly balls at the various other positions within the Dominican Republic in addition to also in Tampa. During spring training games, he said, he expects to play all three positions.
“I feel like he has the athletic ability to do the idea, to be able to move around in addition to also hopefully add to his versatility,” Boone said. “in addition to also with the quality in addition to also the depth of our roster, the idea could be something which’s important not only for him, although potentially for us, too.”
To appreciate the importance of depth, the Yankees only need to look to last season, when, through shrewd moves in addition to also deep pockets, they managed to withstand a major league record 30 different players landing on the injured list.
Despite an overhauled medical in addition to also training staff for the 2020 season, the roster may be in flux again This kind of season.
The Yankees could use a revolving door of players in left field, via Giancarlo Stanton to Mike Tauchman to Clint Frazier — all of whom spent time on the injured list last season. in addition to also when center fielder Aaron Hicks returns via elbow surgery over the summer, Brett Gardner could slide over to left, too. At first base, the Yankees have Luke Voit (who will be recovering via off-season core-muscle surgery), the multipositional star D.J. LeMahieu in addition to also Mike Ford.
in addition to also while Urshela was outstanding using a .314 average in addition to also 21 home runs last year, there will be always the possibility of regression after the breakout season, which could put Andujar back at his old position.
although for at This kind of point, he doesn’t begrudge Urshela his taking over third base. The two are friends in addition to also not rivals. “He was tremendous last season in addition to also helped the team a ton,” Andujar said.
Before General Manager Brian Cashman proclaimed This kind of winter which third base was Urshela’s job to lose, he likened Andujar’s situation to which of the former Yankees slugger Alfonso Soriano, a natural shortstop who learned left field within the spring of 2001 before eventually becoming the everyday second baseman within the major leagues. (An All-Star named Derek Jeter was already entrenched as the Yankees’ everyday shortstop.)
“the idea was, ‘How can we keep This kind of dynamic bat where the idea plays?’” Cashman said of Soriano in November. “I can’t dispute which I’ve run which through my mind about Andujar, too.”
within the past, some have bristled at being called utility players, a label Andujar could earn, because the idea implied they were not not bad enough at one position to play there every day. although which has lessened with the success of Ben Zobrist (who earned a four-year, $56-million contract as a utility player in 2015), Kris Bryant (who won the 2016 N.L. Most Valuable Player Award while bouncing between third base in addition to also the outfield) in addition to also the Los Angeles Dodgers (winners of seven straight division titles using a roster full of Swiss Army knife players, led by first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, the 2019 N.L. M.V.P.).
Andujar, whose name surfaced in trade talks over the winter, said he might prefer to stay with the Yankees, in addition to also at third base — the only position in addition to also organization he has ever known. “although I want to contribute to the team,” he said. “in addition to also whatever decisions are made, I’ll take them positively.”
which includes potentially having him start within the minor leagues, should the Yankees have too much of a logjam or if Andujar needs more time to dust off the rust via last season or master his brand new positions.
Wherever he ends up, the idea will be preferable to the lonely situation he experienced last year, the first lost season of his career. He will be hoping 2020 looks more like 2018, when he smashed 27 home runs in addition to also batted .297.
“The results so far have been positive,” he said, “in addition to also I’m happy with how I’ve responded to This kind of.”