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 12 months Award in 2018, entered closing 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 damage that will drive him out of just about all of the remainder of the season.
As he underwent a number of months of rehabilitation after surgical treatment, Andujar watched 3rd baseman Gio Urshela, a somewhat unknown reserve participant, take hold of keep watch over of his previous spot and turn into some of the saving graces of the Yankees’ injury-ravaged 2019 marketing campaign together with his stout protection and breakout hitting.
Andujar, 24, already identified extra for his bat than his glove, may foretell what this all intended. So in August, together with his teammates surging towards an A.L. East identify and a deep playoff run, Andujar approached his agent with an concept: It used to be time to be informed some new positions, perhaps left box and primary base.
“We learned that we needed to paintings and be in a position this 12 months to offer my very best anyplace at the box and toughen the staff,” Andujar mentioned in a up to date interview.
It used to be a humbling realization for a participant who so not too long ago appeared poised to fasten down the Yankees’ 3rd base spot for future years. However by the point Yankees Supervisor Aaron Boone met with Andujar on the staff’s facility within the Dominican Republic closing month and discussed the ones two new positions, Andujar mentioned he used to be manner forward of his supervisor.
“Once we first broached the topic with him, he used to be thinking about 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 now not handiest rehabilitating the injured labrum in his proper shoulder but additionally operating with a non-public instructor right here in Tampa to toughen his agility so he may maintain 3rd and primary base, and left box. (He had additionally labored the former iciness and spring to raised his shaky protection at 3rd base.)
He started taking flooring 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 as to transfer round and optimistically upload to his versatility,” Boone mentioned. “And with the standard and the intensity of our roster, it may well be one thing that’s essential now not just for him, however probably for us, too.”
To understand the significance of intensity, the Yankees handiest wish to glance to closing season, when, via shrewd strikes and deep wallet, they controlled to resist a significant league document 30 other gamers touchdown at the injured record.
In spite of an overhauled clinical and coaching group of workers for the 2020 season, the roster could also be in flux once more this season.
The Yankees may use a revolving door of gamers in left box, from Giancarlo Stanton to Mike Tauchman to Clint Frazier — all of whom frolicked at the injured record closing season. And when heart fielder Aaron Hicks returns from elbow surgical treatment over the summer season, Brett Gardner may slide over to left, too. In the beginning base, the Yankees have Luke Voit (who’s improving from low season core-muscle surgical treatment), the multipositional big name D.J. LeMahieu and Mike Ford.
And whilst Urshela used to be remarkable with a .314 moderate and 21 house runs closing 12 months, there’s at all times the potential for regression after the breakout season, which might put Andujar again at his previous place.
However for now, he doesn’t begrudge Urshela his taking on 3rd base. The 2 are buddies and now not opponents. “He used to be super closing season and helped the staff a ton,” Andujar mentioned.
Earlier than Normal Supervisor Brian Cashman proclaimed this iciness that 3rd base used to be Urshela’s task to lose, he likened Andujar’s state of affairs to that of the previous Yankees slugger Alfonso Soriano, a herbal shortstop who discovered left box within the spring of 2001 prior to ultimately turning into the on a regular basis 2nd baseman within the primary leagues. (An All-Famous person named Derek Jeter used to be already entrenched because the Yankees’ on a regular basis shortstop.)
“It used to be, ‘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.”
Up to now, some have bristled at being known as application gamers, a label Andujar may earn, as it implied they weren’t excellent sufficient at one place to play there each day. However that has lessened with the good fortune of Ben Zobrist (who earned a four-year, $56-million contract as a application 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 filled with Swiss Military knife gamers, led by way of first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, the 2019 N.L. M.V.P.).
Andujar, whose title surfaced in industry talks over the iciness, mentioned he would favor to stick with the Yankees, and at 3rd base — the one place and group he has ever identified. “However I need to give a contribution to the staff,” he mentioned. “And no matter selections are made, I’ll take them undoubtedly.”
That comes with probably having him get started within the minor leagues, will have to the Yankees have an excessive amount of of a logjam or if Andujar wishes extra time to mud off the rust from closing season or grasp his new positions.
Anywhere he finally ends up, it’ll be preferable to the lonely state of affairs he skilled closing 12 months, the primary misplaced season of his profession. He’s hoping 2020 seems extra like 2018, when he smashed 27 house runs and batted .297.
“The consequences up to now had been certain,” he mentioned, “and I’m pleased with how I’ve spoke back to this.”