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Versatility could pay off for LeMahieu

February 24, 2019

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Versatility is something Yankees manager Aaron Boone plans to take advantage of, and he has the perfect subject in DJ LeMahieu with whom to work the plan. It was one of the reasons that New York signed the veteran, who spent the previous seven seasons with

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Versatility is something Yankees manager Aaron Boone plans to take advantage of, and he has the perfect subject in DJ LeMahieu with whom to work the plan.

It was one of the reasons that New York signed the veteran, who spent the previous seven seasons with the Rockies.

“He had other jobs out there where he could have been a full-time second baseman,” Boone said. “But I think he wanted to be here. He knows we have a really good opportunity to win. The versatility element is such a huge factor.

“I think he has the skill set to be able to do that. Hopefully it’s something that not only adds value for us this season, but something as his career continues to unfold will be something that will really help him.”

Matchups will dictate where and when LeMahieu gets into the lineup, but ideally, he could be looking at playing nearly every day. LeMahieu appeared in Sunday's 8-5 win over the Rays and collected a single -- his first hit as a Yankee -- in two at-bats.

“Starting from a place where everyone is healthy and things are still going according to plan; best-case scenario, [Troy Tulowitzki] is off a couple days a week, which means Gleyber [Torres] moves over on those days,” Boone said. “There’s a day a week or every 10 days when Gleyber gets a day off, that’s another day [for LeMahieu].

“A day off or two for [Miguel] Andujar or a day where he DHs, so it’s really not that hard to envision him playing – call it five out of six days, call it every day – even with everyone healthy and doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

LeMahieu has played 892 Major League games at second base. But he’s seen time at third base (41 games) and played another four games each at shortstop and first.

Boone said he has no hesitation in shuffling the 30-year-old LeMahieu around.

“He’s a gifted infielder. He’s a talented infielder. So I know he’ll be good at it. And we’ve already started that process, even getting him some reps at first base and a lot of reps at third base,” Boone said.

LeMahieu is scheduled to be off Monday and play third on Tuesday.

“We’ll try to break him in that way all spring long,” Boone said. “I’m confident he’ll be really good in this role.”

Voit goes yard

Battling Greg Bird for the starting job at first base, Luke Voit helped his cause on Sunday by blasting a three-run homer and going 2-for-3 at the plate with four RBIs.

“It’s good to get a good start,” Voit said. “I’m going to do what I can control. I control my at-bats and the strike zone, and work every day to get better defensively.”

Though he said he wants to win a Gold Glove Award, it was Voit's bat that carried the day Sunday.

“He’s come to spring in really good shape,” Boone said. “I feel like the work he put in during the winter, especially on the defensive side, has shown up already. At the end of the day, we have two really productive players [in Voit and Bird]. We’re going to try to get them both ready and continue to see where we are as the season unfolds. We have a lot of confidence in both guys.”

Voit is out to prove last year is no fluke. He hit .333 with 14 homers in 39 games with New York last season after arriving from St. Louis just prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

“I’m just going to take it day by day and try to get better.”

Starters named for Monday, Tuesday

Boone named his starters for the next two games, both at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

James Paxton will be the Yankees’ starter on Monday, when they play Toronto. Then, on Tuesday, it will be Masahiro Tanaka taking the mound against the Phillies.

Florial getting a look

Center fielder Estevan Florial has delivered a pair of singles and two stolen bases in six at-bats so far this spring and has impressed Boone.

“I thought his at-bats were good, I’m just excited to see him again this spring,” Boone said.

The 21-year-old Dominican appeared in 21 Spring Training games last season for the Yankees, hitting .219 in 32 official at-bats. He is the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 57 in baseball according to MLB Pipeline.

“We’re going to see him get a lot of reps and hopefully see him continue to develop, stay healthy, and put him in a position to go out and really have a strong, healthy season,” Boone said. “We’re still really excited about him.”

Up next

The Yankees open up the home portion of their Grapefruit League slate at George M. Steinbrenner Field at 1:05 p.m. ET Monday against the Blue Jays. Paxton will get the ball for New York. He will be opposed by Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman.