TAMPA — With Gio Urshela firing lasers from third to first on a daily basis, it’s hard to imagine he won’t be ready in plenty of time for Opening Day after offseason elbow surgery.
So where does that leave Miguel Andujar, whom Urshela replaced when Andujar suffered a shoulder injury two years ago?
While it may seem like he’s a forgotten man, the Yankees insist that’s not the case.
“I haven’t forgotten about Andujar and the coaches for sure haven’t forgotten about Miggy,’’ bench coach Carlos Mendoza said Friday. “We know what type of player Miggy could be. We know the season he had [in 2018].”
But Andujar followed up that 27-homer rookie season by being sidelined for most of 2019 with a shoulder injury, and he lost his job to Urshela. The shortened season a year ago didn’t go well for Andujar, who didn’t adjust to a utility role and shuttled between The Bronx and the alternate site.
“He had the surgery and last year was up and down,’’ Mendoza said. “It was difficult. No doubt, it was a hard year for him.”
So far, there’s no clear route for Andujar to make the Yankees’ 26-man roster, but that could change.
“When we’re all healthy, sure, you can look at our personnel, but Miggy is very much in that mix,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “He has a proven track record of an elite season under his belt and we understand the talent is still very much in there. We saw it with Clint Frazier. I’m not gonna put anything past Miggy.”
Boone said Andujar will “get a lot of opportunities to play here early and get reps and build some momentum. We all know what he’s capable of. … How things break or where opportunities exist, it’s about capitalizing on those.”
Mendoza said Andujar’s attitude is good.
“The one thing he can control is to go out and play and perform and let the people who make decisions make those decisions,’’ Mendoza said. “Our job is to stay positive with him.”
In addition to right-hander Mike King getting the start for the Yankees in their Grapefruit League opener Sunday, Boone said most of the regular players will see action in at least one of the first two games.
Gary Sanchez is expected to be the designated hitter Sunday and catch Monday, when Gerrit Cole is scheduled to start, followed by Jameson Taillon.
Sanchez and Cole have worked together in the early part of spring training after Kyle Higashioka became Cole’s de facto personal catcher in the latter part of last season.
So far, the Yankees don’t want to give up on the idea of Sanchez catching their ace.
Boone said Sanchez looks good at the plate and behind it and is in a “good space” after his ugly 2020.
Boone said the only two regular position players he didn’t expect to play in the first couple of spring training games were Brett Gardner — who signed right before camp opened — and Giancarlo Stanton.
Asked why Stanton — who participated in baserunning and outfield drills Friday — wouldn’t play, Boone said it was “just a preference after conversations I had with all the guys.”
Boone added both Gardner and Stanton were “good and ready to go.”