New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone wastes no time naming Gio Urshela the starting third baseman for the 2020 season.
“We feel like Gio has shown himself to be our third baseman,” Boone said, per Colin Martin of SNY. “And what he’s able to do on both sides of the ball. He’s also got to continue to go out there and earn those regular at-bats. Because we feel, like obviously, we have a lot of capable people that when guys fall off a little bit, there’s going to be a fight for playing time.”
Thank goodness Boone made this move. The last thing the Yankees need right now is a spring training position battle. One thing matters this spring, and that’s making sure everybody is healthy by Opening Day.
It also takes a huge load of pressure off both Urshela and Andujar. Urshela is coming off arguably the best season of his career. His focus should solely be on preparing to show the world that 2019 wasn’t a fluke. He doesn’t need to be looking over his shoulder wondering if he’s going to lose his spot after a bad game. That kind of pressure hinders players of their on-field success.
Andujar, on the other hand, is working at two brand new positions to give himself some defensive versatility. It’s no secret that his defense at third was absolutely disastrous in 2018. So why not focus on learning first base and left field? Why battle for a spot at third if your defensive capabilities don’t suit the position?
Andujar working at first base and in left field will give the Yankees the opportunity to find him regular at-bats. With his true value coming from the batter’s box, there’s no point in wasting his time at a spot that Urshela earned offensively and defensively in 2019.
Of course, as we learned last year, a lot can happen during the course of a season. Fans could very well see Andujar back at third due to an injury. He could also take over as the full-time first baseman should Luke Voit succumb to another setback. Maybe Giancarlo Stanton hits the injured list and Andujar slides in and becomes the full-time designated hitter.
All in all, there are numerous possibilities.
Whatever happens, fans should expect to see a lot of Andujar in the lineup while looking forward to another strong season from Urshela.