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Gio Urshela plays shortstop for Yankees in exhibition win over Tigers

The  Yankees' Gio Urshela throwing to first

The  Yankees' Gio Urshela throwing to first base after the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera at second base at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, in Lakeland, Fla., on March 9. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. – Aaron Boone unveiled a March surprise on Tuesday when he started third baseman Gio Urshela at shortstop against the Tigers.

Urshela, who hasn’t played short in the majors since 2018, handled his only two chances cleanly in the Yankees’ 7-4 victory in Lakeland.

"Hit it to him and you’re out," Boone said. "Not a lot to necessarily judge on, but handled the two plays flawlessly like you would expect."

Urshela got his first chance on a two-out grounder by Miguel Cabrera in the first and flipped to second for the force. He also gobbled up a routine 6-3 in the fifth.

"I felt really good," said Urshela, who went 2-for-2 with a bases-loaded walk and is batting .235 with a .572 OPS. "Better than I thought. I had two ground balls and I felt really comfortable."

Urshela started eight games at shortsop in 2018 for Toronto and made one error in 17 chances. The year before with Cleveland, Urshela played five games (one start) at short and handled 10 chances without an error.

Tyler Wade, who started at second on Tuesday, is the primary backup to Gleyber Torres at short. Non-roster infielder Derek Dietrich started at third. Miguel Andujar is out with a muscle strain in his right hand.

Boone, who made the point that Urshela spends a lot of time in the traditional shortstop position when the Yankees move their infielders around on the shift, didn’t say he would start Urshela at short during the season. But he didn’t rule it out.

"You never know how the season unfolds and injuries happen,’’ Boone said. "The more versatility you can create . . I don’t feel like this is something drastic we’re doing with Gio. I think it’s very easy to [say], ‘Slide over, you’re playing short the whole day today’ and to keep that option open . . . in case we ever get in a pinch or in a situation where we need to move him over there for a day. Just to have done it. It’s something he’s very comfortable doing, but I wanted to see it at least once here in spring training."

Extra bases

The Yankees have won seven in a row . . . Gerrit Cole allowed two runs (home runs by Renato Nunez and JaCoby Jones in the second inning) in 3 2/3 innings in his third start. Cole, who struck out five, threw 61 pitches; the last one touched 100 miles per hour . . . Clint Frazier went 3-for-3 with his second home run, a 425-foot solo shot to left in the fifth . . .Mike Tauchman added his second home run, a two-run shot to the opposite field, also in the fifth . . . Reliever Adam Warren was shut down for a week four or five days ago with shoulder soreness, Boone said.

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