NEW YORK — Shortly after spring training began, Mike Tauchman was asked if he'd be willing to play first base, expanding his defensive versatility beyond the outfield.
"It's not been brought up to me," Tauchman said in February. "I have a little bit of experience there dating back to college. If it was ever brought up to me, yeah, I'd be willing to get out there and give it a go."
Based on what went down during New York's final workout before opening day at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, it seems like the Yankees have told Tauchman just that. To give it a go.
As New York's infielders were peppered with ground balls, Tauchman popped over to first base, working on receiving throws from across the diamond with veteran Jay Bruce.
Eventually, as fielding transitioned into batting practice, Tauchman remained at the position, fielding ground balls repeatedly for several minutes.
Asked after the workout if he's planning on using Tauchman at first base this season, Yankees manager revealed that the outfielder has been working on his skills at the position for an extended period of time behind the scenes. Plus, Tauchman was going to get an in-game opportunity at first before the conclusion of Grapefruit League play had he not fouled a ball of his right shin on Sunday.
"He's been taking a lot of ground balls on the back fields," Boone said. "Whether I put him in there or not, we'll see. 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."
With Luke Voit sidelined due to left knee surgery, Bruce is taking over as New York's starting first baseman to open the season. Voit's injury opened the door for both Bruce and Tauchman to make the 26-man roster, rather than only one of them as a left-handed hitter on the bench.
If Tauchman is able to prove he can work at first base, his value off the bench would increase even more for this club (and on the trade market, as general manager Brian Cashman has alluded to) heading into the 2021 regular season.
Either way, no guarantees Tauchman will be used there going forward. It'll depend on the health of this roster and what situations they run into as the year progresses.
"Defensive versatility is really helpful," Boone said. "Whether Tauch sees first base or not, that remains to be seen."
- Aaron Judge Will Be 'Good to Go' on Opening Day Despite Feeling 'Under the Weather'
- Gleyber Torres’ Passion For Music Is Amplifying His Game
- Yankees' Tyler Wade, Michael King Make Opening Day Roster