NEW YORK — We may never see Mike Tauchman at first base in a game this season, but the outfielder is embracing his work at the position.
Addressing the media on Saturday, for the first time since he was spotted taking ground balls at first base earlier in the week, Tauchman revealed why he's been so open to expanding his defensive versatility this spring.
"I can only play four positions, so I might as well play all four," Tauchman said in a Zoom call before New York's first win of the regular season. "If that's something that can lead to a couple more at-bats, then it's something that I want to do. And so far, so good. We'll see what happens."
Tauchman is known for his elite defense at all three outfield positions, a big reason why the left-handed hitter wound up making the Yankees' Opening Day roster. With first baseman Luke Voit starting the season on the injured list—recuperating from left knee surgery—New York doesn't have too many players available that are capable of filling in at the position.
Veteran Jay Bruce is starting in Voit's place and infielder DJ LeMahieu is often moved from second base over to first late in games, as he was on Saturday. The challenge for Tauchman to put his name in the discussion for playing time there, however, is his footwork.
"There are some guys that can hit the ball really hard and instead of being 300 feet away, I'm like 110," Tauchman said. "So, just getting used to the game speed and the kind of the transition into the movements of the infield versus the outfield. I feel like whereas in the outfield, you want long, fluid movements, where you're covering a lot of ground and it's a lot shorter and quicker and choppier in the infield."
The 30-year-old explained that other than a brief stint at first in summer ball when he was in college, Tauchman has played outfield exclusively since he was 13 years old. Consistent reps this spring behind the scenes are preparing him to be available at the position going forward, just in case.
"Whether I put him in there or not, we'll see," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on Wednesday. "It's just trying as much as we can with our guys, and a tip of the cap to them, of just trying to create as much versatility as possible because you never know what situations pop up over the course of the year."
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