Miguel Andujar didn’t have to look very far Thursday to see the player he admired as a youngster in the Dominican Republic. It was his counterpart and fellow countryman at third base.
“Definitely, Adrian Beltre,” Andujar said through a translator before the Yankees' 7-3 win over Texas at Yankee Stadium. “He’s been a real good third baseman over the years.
“He’s a guy that I paid attention to growing up,” added Andujar, who was 2-for-4, including his 16th homer, a two-run shot in a three-run fourth inning. “He’s had a long career, and if I can emulate his success in any way, I’d love to do that.”
So would the Yankees.
Beltre, 39 and in his 21st big-league season, is the majors’ active leader in hits, and 20th overall, with 3,132. In April he passed Rod Carew to become the all-time leader in hits by a Latin American player. Beltre is tied with recent Hall of Fame inductee Chipper Jones for 33rd with 468 home runs, and 28th with 1,678 RBIs. Copies of Baseball America, featuring Beltre on the cover, sat on a table about 10 feet from Andujar’s locker before the game. (Beltre, who batted cleanup and played third base, was 0-for-4.)
Andujar, 23, hit .330 (31-for-94) with three home runs, five doubles, 11 RBIs and 15 runs in his previous 26 games. He also was leading all rookies in doubles and extra-base hits, and was second among rookies in batting average, runs, hits and multi-hit games. Andujar, who had a slash line of .289/.324/.494, was third in RBIs and fourth in home runs for MLB rookies.
“I know it’s been talked about a lot, but he’s had a really good season for us,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I think he’s made tremendous strides, not only at the plate, but in the field. He continues to work very hard on that.”
Exhibit A came right after Boone’s pregame news conference. As the media exited the dugout and walked onto the field, who was the last Yankee taking infield practice? Andujar. He was working with infield coach Carlos Mendoza on grounders.
“Hopefully, we can continue to work alongside him and help him become what he’s become,” Boone said, “and that’s an impact player in the big leagues.”
Andujar was asked what it’s like for a rookie to be in the middle of a division (and wild-card) race in August.
“The road to the big leagues is a long one,” Andujar said. “When you find yourself here, and you’re competing and you’re on a competitive team . . . and when you find yourself in a race like this, you’re excited.
“Imagine, in my first year, we have a chance to make the playoffs, and who knows, making the World Series and winning it all? It would be like a dream come true for me.”