TAMPA, Fla. — No person from the Yankees needed to inform Miguel Andujar he would possibly wish to discover a new house at the baseball diamond this 12 months.
Andujar, the runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Yr Award in 2018, entered final season as one in every of baseball’s brightest younger stars. However on March 31, simply 3 video games into the 2019 season, he tore cartilage in his throwing shoulder on a apparently harmless slide into 3rd base, an harm that may drive him out of just about all the remainder of the season.
As he underwent a number of months of rehabilitation after surgical operation, Andujar watched 3rd baseman Gio Urshela, a somewhat unknown reserve participant, snatch regulate of his outdated spot and change into one of the crucial saving graces of the Yankees’ injury-ravaged 2019 marketing campaign along with his stout protection and breakout hitting.
Andujar, 24, already recognized extra for his bat than his glove, may just foretell what this all intended. So in August, along with his teammates surging towards an A.L. East identify and a deep playoff run, Andujar approached his agent with an concept: It was once time to be informed some new positions, possibly left box and primary base.
“We learned that we needed to paintings and be in a position this 12 months to offer my highest anywhere at the box and give a boost to the workforce,” Andujar mentioned in a up to date interview.
It was once a humbling realization for a participant who so not too long ago gave the impression poised to fasten down the Yankees’ 3rd base spot for years yet to come. However by the point Yankees Supervisor Aaron Boone met with Andujar on the workforce’s facility within the Dominican Republic final month and discussed the ones two new positions, Andujar mentioned he was once means forward of his supervisor.
“After we first broached the topic with him, he was once fascinated with it or even instructed us he had began to perform a little issues on his personal,” Boone mentioned.
So Andujar spent the autumn and iciness no longer best rehabilitating the injured labrum in his proper shoulder but in addition running with a non-public teacher right here in Tampa to strengthen his agility so he may just maintain 3rd and primary base, and left box. (He had additionally labored the former iciness and spring to higher his shaky protection at 3rd base.)
He started taking floor balls and fly balls on the different positions within the Dominican Republic and in Tampa. All the way through spring coaching video games, he mentioned, he expects to play all 3 positions.
“I believe like he has the athletic skill to do it, so that you could transfer round and with a bit of luck upload to his versatility,” Boone mentioned. “And with the standard and the intensity of our roster, it may well be one thing that’s vital no longer just for him, however probably for us, too.”
To realize the significance of intensity, the Yankees best wish to glance to final season, when, via shrewd strikes and deep wallet, they controlled to resist a significant league report 30 other gamers touchdown at the injured checklist.
In spite of an overhauled scientific and coaching group of workers for the 2020 season, the roster is also in flux once more this season.
The Yankees may just use a revolving door of gamers in left box, from Giancarlo Stanton to Mike Tauchman to Clint Frazier — all of whom hung out at the injured checklist final season. And when heart fielder Aaron Hicks returns from elbow surgical operation over the summer time, Brett Gardner may just slide over to left, too. In the beginning base, the Yankees have Luke Voit (who’s improving from low season core-muscle surgical operation), the multipositional superstar D.J. LeMahieu and Mike Ford.
And whilst Urshela was once exceptional with a .314 reasonable and 21 house runs final 12 months, there may be all the time the potential for regression after the breakout season, which might put Andujar again at his outdated place.
However for now, he doesn’t begrudge Urshela his taking up 3rd base. The 2 are buddies and no longer opponents. “He was once super final season and helped the workforce a ton,” Andujar mentioned.
Prior to Basic Supervisor Brian Cashman proclaimed this iciness that 3rd base was once Urshela’s task to lose, he likened Andujar’s scenario to that of the previous Yankees slugger Alfonso Soriano, a herbal shortstop who realized left box within the spring of 2001 prior to in the end turning into the on a regular basis 2d baseman within the primary leagues. (An All-Big name named Derek Jeter was once already entrenched because the Yankees’ on a regular basis shortstop.)
“It was once, ‘How are we able to stay this dynamic bat the place it performs?’” Cashman mentioned of Soriano in November. “I will’t dispute that I’ve run that via my thoughts about Andujar, too.”
Previously, some have bristled at being known as software gamers, a label Andujar may just earn, as it implied they weren’t excellent sufficient at one place to play there on a daily basis. However that has lessened with the luck of Ben Zobrist (who earned a four-year, $56-million contract as a software participant in 2015), Kris Bryant (who gained the 2016 N.L. Maximum Precious Participant Award whilst bouncing between 3rd base and the outfield) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (winners of 7 immediately department titles with a roster stuffed with Swiss Military knife gamers, led through first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, the 2019 N.L. M.V.P.).
Andujar, whose identify surfaced in business talks over the iciness, mentioned he would like to stick with the Yankees, and at 3rd base — the one place and group he has ever recognized. “However I wish to give a contribution to the workforce,” he mentioned. “And no matter selections are made, I’ll take them definitely.”
That comes with probably having him get started within the minor leagues, must the Yankees have an excessive amount of of a logjam or if Andujar wishes extra time to mud off the rust from final season or grasp his new positions.
Anywhere he finally ends up, it is going to be preferable to the lonely scenario he skilled final 12 months, the primary misplaced season of his occupation. He’s hoping 2020 seems extra like 2018, when he smashed 27 house runs and batted .297.
“The consequences thus far had been sure,” he mentioned, “and I’m proud of how I’ve spoke back to this.”