Notes: Andújar tested in LF; Tanaka debuts

February 26th, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- Playing left field for the first time as a professional, hardly had to wait for his first test, calling off shortstop and snaring the first out of the Yankees’ rain-shortened 8-2 victory over the Nationals on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

“That’s what people say -- new position, first ball hit,” Andújar said through an interpreter. “But I was ready for it.”

Andújar also fielded a base hit without incident, going 1-for-3 with a double as he continues to boost his versatility in hopes of securing a spot on the roster. Andújar was inserted as the left fielder a day earlier than planned because of an injury to , who is questionable for Opening Day due to a Grade 1 right calf strain.

“I thought he did well,” manager Aaron Boone said. “That first ball, Gleyber was waving his hands and Miggy took charge like he should and called him off. When he came out of the game at the end, I said, ‘Nice going today, I really liked that.’ It’s good to see him out there and to start getting that experience.”

Andújar has played only third base since his 2012 debut in the Yankees' system as a 17-year-old, but he is taking on extra duty this spring with occupying the hot corner. Boone said that he plans to see Andújar continue his work in left field as well as at first base.

“I felt good out there,” Andújar said. “The last time I played the outfield, I was a kid -- like 11 or 12. I've been with the Yankees for a long time now and I’ve only played third base, but thank God everything worked out fine. Everything we've been practicing and all the drills and everything, the progress has been there. It's continuing in the game and we’re seeing that in action.”

Tanaka time
came away largely satisfied by his first Grapefruit League start of the year, limiting the Nationals to two runs -- on a Raudy Read homer -- and two hits over two innings. The right-hander walked none and struck out two in the 29-pitch effort (19 for strikes).

“There were a couple of pitches obviously that need to be cleaned up, but for the most part I like how most of my pitches were coming out from my hand,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I also like how I was able to make adjustments in the game.”

Tanaka figures to be the No. 2 starter in a rotation headed by ace , followed by and likely . Tanaka said that it was disappointing to learn that will miss all of the 2020 season, and possibly part of '21, because of Tommy John surgery.

“I’ve got to do what I need to do,” Tanaka said. “Because of this, there might be some added pressure, but I want to go out there and step up for the team. I think Sevy is the one that is most bummed out right now. I obviously feel for him; we obviously wanted to go into the season together and get into business together. It’s disappointing that we’re not able to do that together.”

Up next
The Yankees will host the Rays on Thursday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, with Happ drawing the start in the 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Tampa Bay’s starter has not been announced.