TAMPA, Fla. – Losing Mike Tauchman to injury down the stretch last season was a major blow for the Yankees.
In his first season with New York, Tauchman was one of the club's best hitters throughout the second half of the season. He posted a .315 batting average with a .977 OPS after the All-Star break, hitting .423 in the month of July.
His breakout performance came to an abrupt close in September, however, as he strained his left calf and reluctantly joined the Yankees' record-long list of players sidelined on the injured list.
"Obviously I was grateful for the opportunity that I got and then was able to, you know, take that and run with it a little bit," Tauchman said after reporting to Yankees' Spring Training camp on Monday morning. "Our team dealt with some pretty significant, unusual injury situations last year."
This offseason, the 29-year-old outfielder recalled focusing on his "lack of mobility" in certain spots around his body. Entering his fourth year in the Majors in 2020, staying healthy is of the utmost importance.
"I guess I can only speak for myself, but the things that I did this offseason and the things I did during the rehab will put me in a good position to, you know, stay healthy throughout the season," he said, explaining that his entire club has a lot to learn from after such an injury-plagued campaign.
With Aaron Hicks set to miss an extended period of time recovering from Tommy John surgery, Tauchman is a likely candidate to be featured heavily in the Yankees' outfield. That being said, he knows better than to expect playing time. Tauchman's hope is to build upon last year's performance, be ready and prepared to play all three spots in the outfield on any given day.
"What I look at is that I have kind of a good foundation from last year that to build on," he explained. "I have as much flexibility as I can positionally being left handed to, you know, give myself an opportunity to move all over the outfield."
Tauchman played in a total of 87 contests in 2019, a new career high. He finished the season with a .277/.361/.504 slash line and accumulated 3.6 wins above replacement (fifth-best among those in pinstripes).
When asked about how close he was to coming back from injury – if the Yankees had advanced to the World Series last October – Tauchman revealed he was "very" ready to go. He's carrying that mentality into this season.
"There's a lot of guys, including myself, that are coming to camp extremely motivated," he said. "Ready to get back at it."
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