If all goes according to plan, Yankees sophomore third baseman Miguel Andujar, who’s been sidelined with a small tear in his right labrum for the past month, will come off the injured list and rejoin the big league club next weekend when they host the Twins. That’s the good news.
The bad news? Well, Andujar’s welcomed return to the Bronx means one of the Yankees’ hottest hitters will likely be removed from the lineup — and who knows, maybe even the 25-man roster.
It all depends on how much the Yankees value fill-in infielder Gio Urshela who, quite frankly, has proven himself worthy of an everyday role at the hot corner with this injury-battered, makeshift club.
Since being called up to the majors on April 6, the 27-year-old Urshela has flaunted his exceptional defensive ability at third base and achieved unexpected success at the plate. A career .236 hitter, Urshela enters Sunday hitting .327 with six doubles, a home run, and six RBI in 62 plate appearances (19 games).
“I have more confidence,” Urshela told reporters after going 3-for-4 with two doubles in the Yankees’ 6-4 win over the Giants on Saturday. “I feel like I’m driving the ball to the gaps more than I used to… It feels pretty good. Everybody’s doing their job on the team. We’re winning. That’s the most important thing.”
And because the 16-11 Yankees have been winning — they’ve surprisingly won 10 of 12 games and four consecutive series — what does the future hold for Urshela? What role will he assume once Andujar is activated? And when will Yankees manager Aaron Boone discuss this with Urshela, who’s emerged as an unlikely spark plug?
“We’re not at that point. With our roster right now, there are still a lot of moving parts and a lot of people sort of making their way back,” Boone recently told reporters. “So right now, Gio obviously is doing a great job for us on both sides of the ball. He’s had a huge impact on us being able to win games and we’re really fortunate that we have a player like him that I think continues to grow in his game.”
The Yankees acquired Urshela last August when the Blue Jays dealt him for cash considerations. According to RosterResource.com, he’s out of minor league options, and based on how he’s performed thus far, it’s unlikely the Yankees would see him clear waivers.
This is one of the reasons why moving on from Urshela completely would be risky. Want another? As much as the Yankees have missed Andujar’s bat and presence, his health is no guarantee. The team can only hope his shoulder holds up from now until October. They can only hope he doesn’t suffer a setback. They can only hope he manages to avoid season-ending surgery.
There are quite a few unknowns. And even though the Yankees may soon be able to work with an infield featuring DJ LeMahieu at third, Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, and Gleyber Torres at second, Urshela has plenty of value off the bench.
“We were excited when we were able to get him last year because of what we know he brings defensively at third base,” Boone said. “But since spring training, he’s showed me a lot with the bat and he’s come up with a lot of big hits for us.”
With a whopping 13 players on the injured list, it’s probably wise to hold onto someone like Urshela, who’s recently come up with big hits and provided stellar defense.
Regardless, the Yankees will soon be forced to make a difficult decision. Because Urshela has delivered.