You would think staring down Mike Trout from the pitching mound would be the answer. Or attempting to figure out what well-above-average pitch Gerrit Cole was going to throw to make you look ill.
Yet, many players will tell you the most difficult thing to accomplish at baseball’s highest level is changing positions once in the big leagues.
Which, of course, Miguel Andujar continues to try and do.
With Gio Urshela’s breakout 2019, which added a very solid bat to Gold Glove defense at third base while Andujar recovered from right shoulder surgery that limited him to a dozen games, the Yankees are trying to find additional positions for the talented 25-year-old hitter.
The experiment started in February and March — when Andujar played third, first base and the outfield — and has continued in spring training 2.0.
“To be honest, I feel much more comfortable comparing going back to the time in Tampa spring training,’’ Andujar said when asked Wednesday the difference between now and when he started working at positions other than at third. “I think [the shutdown] has allowed me to have more practice to get more comfortable with the position out there, doing a lot of drills and listening to the coaches.’’
Andujar finished second to the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani in the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year race thanks to a .297 average with 27 homers and 92 RBIs, but his defense at third needed work not only to cut down on the 15 errors but also to get to more balls.
Had he not been hurt early last season, it’s likely the right-handed bat would have stayed productive, but when Andujar went down Urshela got a chance and delivered.
Though Urshela has to prove that last year’s career-best numbers at the plate (.314, 21 HRs and 74 RBIs) weren’t a one-season stand, if the bat doesn’t produce, the Yankees could turn back to Andujar at third, where he continued to work during the shutdown.
“It was a matter of balancing working at third base and working in the outfield,” he said. “I worked at both positions the same amount of time.”
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