TAMPA — After an exciting start, Miguel Andujar’s upset bid for the starting job at third base came up short.
And so now we wait for Andujar to finish off his defensive development at Triple-A Scranton, with more-than-capable option Brandon Drury holding down the fort at the hot corner for the Yankees until he does.
Andujar showed why many scouts believe he’s already “big-league ready.” He blasted four homers, displaying his power potential. He also had an errorless spring, this after committing six errors in 2017.
But in reality, he would’ve had to have the same spring Greg Bird had last season to move ahead of Drury on the depth chart.
Andujar opened plenty of eyes early on, before tailing off a bit as the exhibition season progressed.
Aaron Boone sounded like a manager that had a tough time delivering the news to Andujar that his 23-year-old prospect was being demoted on Sunday — even if it was expected.
“It’s difficult to send a guy like that down that you know is going to be a really good player in this league,” Boone said. “He came in here with a need to perform, and he absolutely did on both sides of the ball. He played really well defensively, and I think everyone got a peek at the kind of hitter we think he’s going to be.
“So I just had a long talk with him in here and told him to go down there and continue to polish his game, continue to get better, and continue to work. It won’t be long before he’s up here for good.”
Drury, 25, has quietly had a solid spring himself, hitting .289 and playing quality defense. On Sunday, he ripped a two-run single. The Bombers believe there is more in the tank with him, and this is the perfect opportunity for Drury to prove the team right.
In the meantime, Andujar will be waiting in the wings, with Boone challenging him to command the strike zone — the same message he’s conveyed to all his big-league players.
“There’s going to be days down there at Triple-A when he’s going to feel like I’m better than the pitcher,” Boone said. But the manager is imploring Andujar to be patient and swing at his pitch, “because I feel like if he can do that, he goes from what I think is going to be a very good major-league hitter to climbing into that elite class if he can really command the zone.”
Likewise, Gleyber Torres, 21, will also be shaking off his remaining rust with the RailRiders after hitting .160 in the spring following his return after missing most of last season due to Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow.
Torres will split reps between second and shortstop, his natural position, which makes sense both in case of injury to Didi Gregorius, and given the Bombers deploy so many defensive shifts. He homered in his first minor-league spring game on Saturday. And with Torres, the Yankees get the benefit of an added year of team control as well.
“That certainly becomes a real possibility at some point,” Boone said of Torres taking over at second, which is currently occupied by emerging youngster Tyler Wade and veteran Neil Walker.
The Yankees figure to draw interest from other teams on the duo, which so far have been off-limits in trade talks.
Still, with their infield depth, the Bombers can at least be in position to listen if a young/elite starter becomes available.
And so now we wait.
Maybe their Yankee debuts will come in May. Maybe they’ll come in June.
Either way, Andujar and Torres figure to be knocking at the door, with their sights set on wearing pinstripes, and sticking around in The Bronx for a long time.
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