Miguel Andujar’s return to the infield didn’t last long, with his replacement coming through yet again Thursday night for the Yankees.
Andujar played six innings in just his second start at third base since returning from the injured list on Saturday, but Gio Urshela came off the bench to lace another key hit — a two-run single in the eighth inning of the Yanks’ 3-1 victory over Seattle at the Stadium.
“Just bringing him in because, to have a premium defender sitting over there with a lead, coupled with knowing he’s probably going to come up again and you’re comfortable with that,” Boone said of the decision to insert Urshela for defense in the seventh inning. “What more can you say? He’s been a really good player for us and he’s come up big a lot of times for us and another time tonight.”
Urshela suffered a left knee contusion in Wednesday’s loss to the Mariners, but he was available to play and stroked a two-out single to rightfield with the bases loaded against Seattle reliever Connor Sadzeck to extend the Yanks’ lead from one run to three.
In 15 games since April 22, Urshela is hitting .404 with two homers and nine RBIs. He’s also batting .364 (8-for-22) with runners in scoring position for the season, with seven of his 11 RBIs coming in the seventh inning or later.
“I was ready for my opportunity,” Urshela said. “Confidence is the key for me, and I try to have that confidence every game. I’ve been working for this kind of chance and I’m trying to get better every day.”
Andujar is expected to switch back to the designated hitter role with Urshela likely returning to the starting lineup Friday in Tampa.
Urshela added that it “means a lot to me” that Boone said earlier this week that he will continue to receive regular playing time, at least while the 24-year-old Andujar attempts to regain both his offensive rhythm and the strength in the torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Andujar finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .294 with 27 homers, 92 RBIs and 47 doubles last season. He went 0-for-3 Thursday to extend his hitless string to 16 at-bats, and he’s still searching for his first extra-base hit of 2019.
“He’s obviously searching for it a little bit right now,” Boone said of Andujar. “He’s probably maybe a little too aggressive in spots. He’s such a good hitter, but I talk to you guys a lot about how it’s a tough game. Even the best hitters, and a guy like Miggy, will go through tough stretches.
“When you’ve been injured and coming back and trying to make up a little bit for lost time and trying to get it going a little bit — no doubt he will — but right now he’s just kind of grinding through it. He’ll get there.”