Brandon Drury is adding a new position to his repertoire, and it could be his ticket back to the Bronx.
The 25-year-old infielder started at first base for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday night against Rochester for the first time since 2012 (when he was in Single-A), and he could be used as an emergency first base option for the Yankees, RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell told DJ Eberle of the Times Leader.
Drury, who was the Yankees’ Opening Day third baseman, landed on the disabled list on April 7 with migraines and blurred vision. Nearly a month ago, on May 15, Drury was optioned to Triple-A after finishing a minor league rehab stint. Since then, he’s been slashing .313/.442/.455 with two home runs and RBI in 34 games (112 at-bats).
Due to ample production the Yankees have received from rookie third baseman Miguel Andujar, who has a team-high .310 batting average in 53 games, Drury hasn’t seen the majors since the first week of the season.
“I don’t belong [in Triple-A] at all,” Drury recent told The Athletic. “You come to that point where you just have to accept it. Obviously, I don’t want to accept it. I need to be back in the big leagues quickly. I feel like I belong there and I can help the team win. At the same time, I need to do what I can do now to just get better every day. That’s what I can do right now. But there’s no doubt about it: I belong there and that’s where I need to be.”
Drury’s positional range and experience increases his value, and the big league club is taking notice.
“It can definitely help,” Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone told NJ.com. “Versatility has been something that Brandon has done throughout his career, obviously played a lot of second the last couple of years. So I think adding some versatility to his game certainly puts him in a better position to be able to help our club again at some point.”
That “some point” Boone refers to could be arriving soon for Drury. Although the Yankees have lefty Greg Bird starting at first base, righty backup Tyler Austin has been struggling at the plate. Since Bird was activated from the disabled list on May 26, Austin has started four games in a reduced role, and in 15 at-bats, he’s hitless with 10 strikeouts. But Austin’s dry spell has also lingered. The 26-year-old rookie has hit just .140 against righties in 57 at-bats since the start of May.
If Austin continues to struggle in his platoon opportunities, the Yankees could call upon Drury to take Austin’s place. And if Drury grows comfortable at the new corner bag, the team’s bench would become even deeper.