The Yankees love Gio Urshela’s defense at third base, uttering golden words such as “Gold Glove.” But he also began Tuesday night’s game against Seattle at the Stadium standing third in the majors among those with at least 25 games played, batting .352.
“Oh really?” Urshela said.
Sure, with 81 plate appearances, he wasn’t officially among the leaders. But still, who saw this coming?
Or the game-tying two-run homer he smacked in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 5-4 walkoff win over the Mariners?
“I was real excited about that moment,” Urshela said. “... It feels so good.”
The 27-year-old Colombian has been one of the surprise guys, who have helped keep the Yankees afloat despite the onslaught of injuries.
“You don’t want to spend your whole career in the minor leagues,” said Urshela, who doubled in his first at-bat and scored. “So I think if I get the opportunity one day, I’ll take advantage. That’s what I’m doing, taking advantage of every opportunity that they give me here.”
Miguel Andujar was at third for two of the first three games, then went on the injured list with a shoulder issue April 1. Urshela came up from Triple-A Scranton five days later and eventually took hold of third.
“Gio’s been unbelievable,” CC Sabathia said.
Urshela has opened eyes. He said his hitting hasn’t been a surprise to him because of the work he has put in over the last year, although he had only one homer and seven RBIs in 26 games. But the defense has been especially eye-catching.
“Gold Glove-caliber, certainly,” Boone said.
Urshela, who made an eighth-inning error leading to two unearned runs Tuesday, said he’s comfortable playing around “the whole infield” if needed. But he said he’s most comfortable at third.
Those skills came with him when the Yankees gave cash considerations to Toronto last Aug. 4 and sent him to Triple-A for the rest of the season.
“It’s something natural that God [gave] to me,” Urshela said.
The hitting has taken some experimentation.
In the minors, Urshela was a career .270 hitter dating to 2009. He was signed by Cleveland as a non-drafted free agent the year prior. In the majors, he batted .225 over 167 games in parts of two seasons with the Indians and one with the Blue Jays.
“I used to change my stance a lot, but I’d say I finally got the right one,” Urshela said. “I think it’s working.”
But, Urshela said, “it’s not my stance” as far as the biggest key to turning out more hits.
“My confidence that I create now, that’s for me the most important thing,” Urshela said. “I think that’s what I’m doing. I create that confidence in myself.”