Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees

Yankees Miguel Andujar: Not All Baby Bombers Are Created Equal

 Miguel Andujar is out to upset the Yankees plan to start him at Triple-A when rosters are pared down to 25 players. By hitting his second home run in as many days, Andujar is already making a statement the team may not be able to ignore. Even so, we’ll see.

Miguel Andujar is coming to learn not all Baby Bombers are created equal. Aaron Judge was anointed by the Yankees in late March following a day-day-day battle with Aaron Hicks for the job in right field. In retrospect, it seems like a no-brainer now, but at the time it was a significant move for the team to make.

This season, it appears Gleyber Torres has the attention of the Yankees. And though he will probably begin the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre under the veil of “giving Torres more time to get to 100 percent” following his season-ending injury last season,  the job at second base is his to lose when he gets called up around May 1. Stretching out another year of team control of Torres may or may not be mentioned by the Yankees when they send him down, but that’s the business of baseball at work.

Noticeably though, the Yankees could have gone out to sign a Neil Walker or Brandon Phillips after losing Starlin Castro in the Giancarlo Stanton trade, but they didn’t. Greg Bird gets the same message. Stay healthy, you’re our man at first base, and we are counting on you.

Which leaves both Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar on the outside looking in, Baby Bombers are biding their time, waiting for a chance to prove themselves. Frazier is facing a more than crowded outfield that is already a headache for Aaron Boone to deal with on a game-to-game basis.

Frazier is off to a tenuous start to the preseason, and as a result of a concussion, he felt foggy after hitting in the cage Tuesday and is continuing to experience headaches, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports. Bad break for him – a good break for the Yankees depending on how you view the development, clearing a path for Frazier’s eventual dismissal to the minors.

Miguel Andujar is a different story, though. The Yankees, no doubt, remain very high on Andujar and there is nary a negative word about his upside as a player. Only that the team would like to see him firm up his defense at third base.

And yet, Andujar has been working on his defense, and the results are beginning to show:

The morning after Andujar hit a ninth-inning, walk-off homer to beat the Phillies in Tampa, there were no boots in his infield practice, mostly perfect throws to first base and some very nifty picks on backhand stops that had early arriving Yankees fans shouting out praise.Randy Miller, NJ.com

And so, the Yankees brought in Brandon Drury to be their Opening Day starting third baseman. Not a bad move by the Yankees, but if you are Miguel Andujar you might be asking yourself, “Hey, why didn’t I get the same treatment as Gleyber Torres. Do I need a back-up? No way, I’m ready”.

Andujar, to his credit, is not saying anything close to that. Instead, he appears to be on a mission to prove the Yankees wrong. Which makes for one of those baseball stories I can’t help but gravitate towards. Because when all the hoopla is boiled away, Miguel Andujar, in the world of baseball, is his brand. No one else feeds or supports his family.

Two home runs in two days is a start, though Andujar must know he needs to do more. One analyst, I heard this morning driving to work on MLB Network Radio (Sirius XM), said for Andujar to make the team, he’d have to hit .500, while Drury labored at .100. An exaggeration? I don’t know, but I would hope not.

These are the stories that make Spring Training intriguing, not the arrival of Russell Wilson or Alex Rodriguez in camp, or the home run derby during batting practice between Judge, Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. These are real jobs and real livelihoods we are talking about.

Considering only position players, besides Andujar, only Billy McKinney (a longshot, though worthy), Tyler Austin, and Tyler Wade (Wade probably gets the nod due to versatility), there isn’t any competition to crack the Yankees team moving North to face the Blue Jays on Opening Day in Toronto.

With that in mind, I’m following Andujar closely, mainly because I see it as a baseball story that has yet to be played out. Stay tuned.

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