PHILADELPHIA — It’s been a quick fall for Miguel Andujar.
The 25-year-old, who finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2018, was among three players the Yankees sent to the club’s alternate site in Scranton after Wednesday’s doubleheader split against the Phillies.
“Just felt like we needed the coverage from a pitching standpoint,” said Aaron Boone, whose team has another doubleheader Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla. against the Rays.
Still, there was more to it than that.
At the moment, there simply isn’t a path to regular playing time for Andujar, who missed the vast majority of last year after an early-season shoulder injury required surgery in May. Gio Urshela took over for Andujar at third and his performance essentially blocked the latter from the position in 2020. Wanting to get Andujar’s bat in the lineup, the Yankees in the spring began having him play some outfield and first base.
With Urshela off to a good start, the outfield healthy — and productive — and Luke Voit and Mike Ford handling everything just fine at first, at-bats for Andujar have been sparse. When the righthanded hitter has gotten those chances, he’s struggled, off to a 1-for-14 start at the plate.
“He’s like many of our guys,” Boone said before mentioning Andujar along with Clint Frazier and Thairo Estrada, two other young players the Yankees like but have sent to the alternate site with not much playing time in the big leagues available, especially now with rosters trimmed to 28 from 30. “They’re a play away all the time from a regular opportunity. I think it’s a difficult role for him to be in and I think he’s handled it great. His work ethic has not changed, his attitude has not changed. But being in that role I feel when he does get his opportunities, you want that result so bad you probably press and get after it a little bit too much.”
Though feeling the roster crunch gave the Yankees no choice, Boone said it was still a “very tough” conversation to have with Andujar, behind the scenes looked at as one of the club’s hardest workers.
“Unfortunately, I’ve had to have a few of those conversations with some really good players that are big leaguers, that are good big-league players, and it’s a result of having a deep and talented roster,” Boone said. “Doesn’t make it any easier when you have to tell a major leaguer that you have to option him.”
Judge, LeMahieu get the day off
With the Yankees having one doubleheader under their belt and with another one to come Saturday, Boone did not start Aaron Judge or DJ LeMahieu Thursday night.
“They’re OK,” Boone said. “Just trying to strategically pick a day here to get guys a little bit of rest during these opening couple of weeks.”
Opportunity for Long Island’s Tropeano
Before Thursday night’s game the Yankees announced they had signed righty Nick Tropeano to a major-league contract and selected him for the active roster. The 29-year-old Tropeano, who pitched at West Islip High School, was a non-roster invitee in the spring and threw well at times before the Grapefruit League season was cancelled March 12. As a corresponding roster move, the Yankees transferred Tommy Kahnle, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier in the week, to the 60-day injured list.