By Joe Pantorno
The New York Yankees’ embarrassment of riches placed Miguel Andujar in a precarious position heading into the 2020 season.
The promising young hitter who spent his entire life playing third base — with plenty of holes in his defense — was usurped from his natural position after the emergence of smooth-fielding Gio Urshela while he was sidelined during the 2019 season because of a torn labrum.
Now, Andujar is working on making a shift to the outfield to ensure he has a place within a loaded Yankees roster.
“I feel really, really good, honestly. I think the progress I’ve made, all the practice, all the work out there has carried over into games,” Andujar told reports via Zoom. “It’s a positive for me and a positive for the team that I feel good about that.”
There should be plenty of reason for the Yankees to find a way to fit Andujar in the lineup. In 2018, he finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting after slashing .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs, 47 doubles, and 92 RBI.
Andujar has shown some growing pains in the corner-outfield spots during Yankees’ summer camp over the last few weeks, but it’s just a part of the process, according to him.
“It’s a challenge to learn a new position, especially at this level playing at the big leagues,” he said. “To have to learn a new position is not easy. At the same time, I understand that through practice and repetition… it’s very encouraging.”
“It’s fun playing out there. The way I see it, at the end of the day, it’s another opportunity to play this game and help the team.”
His name is just one on a sizable list of corner outfielders looking to nab playing time in the Bronx this season.
Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are bound to cycle at the designated hitter spot throughout the season while Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, and Mike Tauchman jockey for starts.
For Andujar, it’s an opportunity to learn more about his new position.
“I have plenty of guys around me that I can pick up tips and learn from,” he said. “There are plenty of good outfielders here that I can learn from.”
Andujar could get a taste of exhibition game action in the outfield this weekend as the Yankees meet the Mets for a pair of warm-up games — one at Citi Field on Friday night (7:10 p.m. ET, SNY, YES) in Queens and the other at Yankee Stadium (7:05 p.m., SNY, YES) on Saturday night.