SAN FRANCISCO — When it comes to the Yankees’ injuries, all good news must be taken with a grain of salt, of course.
Such is the reality for a team that has 13 players on an injured list that never seems to significantly decrease in number.
Still, the news out of Tampa on Friday afternoon was nothing but positive. For now, anyway.
Miguel Andujar, whose season appeared to be in jeopardy when he was sent to the IL April 1 with a small labrum tear in his right shoulder, played five innings at third base in an extended spring training game Friday. By all accounts, Andujar, who went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and a walk, made it through the day just fine.
“The bat’s fine, everything looked good,” said one talent evaluator who was in attendance. “You wouldn’t know he was hurt. They [the Yankees] should be encouraged.”
He added, “He scored three runs, he ran well. He sure played like a guy who wants to get out of Tampa [as soon as possible].”
On Thursday, Aaron Boone said that if everything goes well in the coming days for Andujar in a handful of extended spring games, he “potentially” could return to the Yankees in a week.
“He’s responded, obviously, really well, and continues to progress,” Boone said. “So we’ll see how the next few games go and how he’s able to bounce back.”
Before Friday night’s game at Oracle Park, Boone reiterated that possibility. “Played five innings at third base without incident,” he said. “I think he had only one ball hit to him, but he did all of his pregame defensive work and it sounds like he did well with that. I think he’s going to DH tomorrow. Sunday’s an off day, so he’ll probably play another extended game on Monday. If that goes well then he’ll play with [high Class A] Tampa, and if it continues to go well, there’s a chance he could be back with us by next weekend when we get home.''
The Yankees, in the midst of a nine-game, three-city trip that ends Wednesday night in Phoenix, will be off Thursday before starting a three-game series against the Twins at the Stadium next Friday.
Andujar started his throwing program April 10 in Houston and said afterward through his translator: “I definitely felt better than I thought I was going to feel.”
Gio Urshela, who has gotten most of the time at third in Andujar’s absence, has been terrific in the field and better-than-expected at the plate, recording a .283/.358/.435 slash line in 17 games.
The Yankees will have to make a decision on what to do with Urshela if Andujar indeed is activated next weekend, but they’re not at that stage yet.
To this point, there have not been any setbacks in a rehab process the club hoped from the start would end with Andujar back on the field and not needing season-ending surgery. Though things certainly seem headed in that direction, Boone doesn’t want to get ahead of himself in that regard. Given how it’s gone with injuries this season, who can blame him?
“I would still say I remain cautiously optimistic,” Boone said. “We’ll see how these next several days unfold, how he feels he can handle the workload defensively and get it across the diamond and what we’re seeing there. But the bat, it seems like there’s no issue there at all, so that’s good news.”