Red-Hot Andújar Gets Another Shot With Yankees, If Only Temporarily

Miguel Andújar enjoyed a two-homer game on Thursday night
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The Yankees are giving Miguel Andújar another shot in the majors.

The 26-year-old was promoted on Friday, a day after Gio Urshela departed New York's 7-4 loss to Houston in the eighth inning with a knee injury. Urshela exited two batters after making a diving stop on a grounder and bouncing the throw to first. Tyler Wade finished the game at third base.

An MRI on Thursday night came back clean for Urshela, allowing him to avoid the injured list. He is considered day-to-day with some swelling in his left knee. Andújar will take the place of reliever Albert Abreu on the active roster, starting at first base on Friday afternoon. 

"Gio's obviously a big part of what we do," manager Aaron Boone said Thursday. "Hopefully it's nothing too serious."

A dazzling defender at the hot corner and one of New York's most consistent bats this season, Urshela is the second Yankees infielder to get hurt this week. He follows Rougned Odor, who sprained his left knee on Tuesday after a collision at the plate with Astros catcher Martín Maldonado. Odor was placed on the 10-day IL.

The injuries have created an opening for the frequently logjammed Andújar, who has begun the young minor league season with a bang.

Andújar has three homers in as many games. As part of a four-hit night, he crushed two long balls in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's 17-11 win over Syracuse on Thursday. Andújar has a total of five runs, six hits, five RBI, one walk and one strikeout in 15 plate appearances. 

The small but impressive sample comes at the perfect time for Andújar, who has struggled to find big-league consistency and opportunities since finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2018.

Now 26, he's appeared in just 33 MLB games over the last two seasons thanks to injuries, a crowded depth chart, defensive issues, learning new positions, and subpar offensive numbers. Andújar slashed .242/.277/.355 with just one home run in 65 plate appearances last year, though he often went days between game action. It wasn't until early September, when Andújar received more regular at-bats, that he began to hit like he was capable of. But his last game of the season came on Sept. 13. Andújar's agent questioned whether the Yankees were manipulating his service time shortly after that. 

Andújar struggled in spring training this year, picking up two hits in 15 at-bats. 

Now he returns to the majors with a hot bat. As for his glove, Andújar played both corner infield spots on Thursday after starting Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's first two games in left field.

Whether the Yankees are satisfied with his defensive progress remains to be seen, but they now have a banged-up third baseman and haven't received consistent production in left field or at first. Andújar, at least theoretically, gives them several options to consider while Urshela gets back to 100 percent.

Regardless of where he plays, Andújar should see some at-bats, at least for a few days.

Luke Voit's impending return—expected next week—could force Andújar back to the minors quickly, though, so he may need his scorching start to the season to transition to The Show if he hopes to stay up. 

Even then, he might not. Once Voit is back, the Yankees would have a choice to make, presumably between Andújar and Mike Ford, one of the few lefties on the team. Should Andújar survive that decision, Odor is only on the 10-day IL. A crammed roster could come for Andújar once again in the near future.

For now, however, he's back in the bigs with a chance to help the aching Yankees.

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