CLEVELAND — This expression — or some form of it — has made its way around the minor leagues for years: “If you don’t like it here, play better.”
It is a truism the vast majority of the time when it comes to getting called up to the big leagues, but not always.
That has been the case for Miguel Andujar, whose frustration at not being able to stick in the majors this season boiled over the last time he was demoted, after a night game June 3. He had his agent request a trade (something that also occurred toward the end of last season).
“I’ve been playing this game for a long time now. I want to play at this level,” Andujar said Saturday through his interpreter.
Andjuar, called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Friday night to serve as the “27th man” for Saturday’s doubleheader, spoke before starting in leftfield in both games.
Andujar came through with a two-out RBI single in the Yankees’ four-run third inning that tied Game 1 at 2-2. Andujar finished 1-for-5, making good contact each time up, and went 0-for-3 in Game 2 before being returned to Scranton.
Andujar, 27, who finished second to the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2018 and who is hitting .316 with seven homers and an .847 OPS in 45 games with Scranton, did not dispute the reports from June 4 that he had requested a trade. He declined to delve into the specifics of his conversation from June 3 with Aaron Boone, or any of the discussions between his representation and the Yankees.
“The exact details of the conversation, I want to keep those private,” Andujar said.
Boone said he understands Andujar’s vexation but also admires how he has gone about his business not only since the demotion but since reporting for spring training. That’s not a surprise, given that Andujar has always been considered among the hardest behind-the-scenes workers since his early days with the Yankees in the minors.
“He’s gone down there and continued to perform and play well in, obviously, what’s a difficult situation for him,” Boone said. “But to his credit, after getting sent down, he got down there and started getting after it right away. Excited to have him here today and hopefully having an impactful day for us.”
In terms of his swing, Andujar said he thinks he is back in his 2018 form, when he hit .297 with 27 homers, 47 doubles and an .855 OPS in 149 games. Boone agreed. “I definitely think this year’s version of Miggy is more in line with 2018,” he said. “When he got hurt in ‘19, last year and even 2020, he was never back to that level. And I felt like starting in spring training, he was back to being what he could be at this level. So I’ve felt that way all year about him.”
Aroldis Chapman, activated Friday from the injured list — where he had been since May 24 with left Achilles tendinitis — was a train wreck in his first appearance. Coming on in the seventh inning of Game 1 with the Yankees ahead 10-2, Chapman walked the bases loaded with none out, throwing only seven strikes in his 19 pitches. Shoulders slumped, he walked slowly to the dugout after Boone replaced him with Ron Marinaccio, who retired three straight batters but allowed two inherited runners to score.
“He’s healthy,” Boone said of Chapman. “And I know he warmed up really good, throwing the ball really well [in the bullpen]. But it’s like, he’s got to get out there and almost not think in terms of not throwing the ball, but just trusting it and letting it rip and the results fall where they may.”
Another bullpen arm to IL
Marinaccio, a surprising star in a bullpen not lacking in them this season, was placed on the injured list after the doubleheader with right shoulder inflammation.
“I’m super-bummed about it,” said the native of Toms River, who has a 2.33 ERA. “But I don’t want to put myself at risk for a worse injury. I’m going to rehab hard and hopefully get back as soon as I can.”
Marinaccio, whose fastball velocity has been down of late — from the mid-90s to the low-90s — said he’d been feeling discomfort in the shoulder for about a week.
Marinaccio has not allowed a hit in his last nine games (10 innings) and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 13 games (15 1⁄3 innings).
Struggling outfielder Joey Gallo, who did not start the first game, snapped a 0-for-26 slump with a leadoff single in the third inning of Game 2 . . . Anthony Rizzo (No. 22) and Giancarlo Stanton (No. 20) hit back-to-back homers off Aaron Civale in the fourth inning of Game 2 to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. It was Stanton’s sixth homer in his last nine games and Rizzo’s seventh in his last 15 games . . . Of the Yankees’ 21 losses, 14 have been by one or two runs.