TAMPA — Last spring, Miguel Andujar went through what Aaron Boone called “a little bit of a crash course” in left field, as the Yankees tried to turn Andujar into something of a utility player.
But that course was interrupted when spring training was shut down due to COVID and Andujar never found his footing in left — or really, on the Yankees’ roster.
So far this spring, the 26-year-old has just played third base in games, while continuing his work in the outfield. And Boone said Andujar should get his first action in left on Wednesday night in Tampa.
“He’s making the plays at third base, a couple of good plays,” Boone said of Andujar, who lost his third-base job to Gio Urshela due to a shoulder injury early in the 2019 season.
After Urshela underwent offseason elbow surgery, there was some thought Andujar could fill in if needed, but Urshela has looked good in camp and figures to be on track to be ready in time for Opening Day.
And there’s no shortage of outfielders in camp, with Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge all healthy, Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman also around, as well as Jay Bruce — who has already been used in the outfield.
Still, Boone said he believes Andujar is “a natural” in left. And despite not showing much yet at the plate, the Yankees know what Andujar is capable of at the plate.
“He’s been solid,” Boone said of Andujar’s offense so far. He’s 2-for-12 with a pair of singles and no walks.
Andujar spent much of last year shuttling between The Bronx and the alternate site in Scranton, but when he got a chance to play fairly regularly in early September, Andujar went 11-for-31 with four extra-base hits in nine games.
He still has an option left, so he could start the season at the alternate site again.
Deivi Garcia is slated to start on Tuesday against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla. Garcia allowed a pair of solo homers in his first start against the Phillies, which lasted two innings. The Yankees still have time to determine how they want to construct their pitching staff to open the season and Boone has said repeatedly they likely will be “creative,” especially in the early going.
If everyone stays healthy, there likely will only be one open slot in the rotation — behind Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon — so Garcia could compete for that slot or perhaps start the season at the alternate site, since the Yankees still view him as a starter and he still has options.