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Notes: Andújar adds OF; Sánchez 'ready to play'

July 8, 2020

NEW YORK -- Seven months ago, Miguel Andújar was working out at the Yankees’ facility in the Dominican Republic when he was approached with a suggestion. It might help his chances of sticking on the big league roster, manager Aaron Boone offered, if he added the outfield to his resume.

NEW YORK -- Seven months ago, Miguel Andújar was working out at the Yankees’ facility in the Dominican Republic when he was approached with a suggestion. It might help his chances of sticking on the big league roster, manager Aaron Boone offered, if he added the outfield to his resume.

To Boone’s surprise, Andújar was not only receptive to the idea, but he had already been taking occasional fly balls. Andújar progressed enough in the spring to convince the Yankees that he will be a capable corner outfielder, in addition to his ongoing development at third base and first base.

“I feel much more comfortable now,” Andújar said through a translator. “Comparing to Spring Training in Tampa, I think this time has allowed me to have more practice and get more comfortable with the position out there. I've been doing a lot of drills, listening to the coaches, listening to all the tips that I've been getting from them.”

Yanks adjusting to new rules at Summer Camp

The 25-year-old Andújar was the runner-up to the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani for the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2018, when Andújar served as the Yanks’ regular third baseman. Andújar lost most of ’19 to a right shoulder injury, and general manager Brian Cashman has said that third base is now Gio Urshela’s “job to lose.”

Andújar hasn’t closed the door on returning to third base, but he is open to whatever keeps him in the Majors. Andújar said that he remained in Tampa after baseball paused in March, working out regularly at a facility and at George M. Steinbrenner Field, where he aimed to continue expanding his versatility.

“Playing first base, playing outfield, third base -- it gives you flexibility,” Andújar said. “It opens more doors for me and more opportunities.”

Full speed ahead
By this time last year, Gary Sánchez had already belted 24 home runs in 68 games, though he’d also sustained a left groin strain that required a stint on the injured list. The Yankees catcher expects that the upcoming 60-game slate will allow him to enjoy a season that is both healthy and productive.

“We had a long time without playing baseball, so of course your body feels fresh, healthy, ready to play,” Sánchez said through a translator. “I can tell you that anytime my name is in the lineup, I'm going to be ready to play. Eventually, they're going to make a decision and see how many games I should be behind the plate, but if my name is in the lineup, I'll be ready to play.”

Cashman instills 'all in' mentality for Yanks in '20

Sánchez worked extensively in the spring with new catching coach Tanner Swanson. Their work continued when Sánchez returned to the Dominican Republic in March, and he showcased that lower stance -- intended to steal low strikes -- while teaming with Gerrit Cole during Tuesday’s intrasquad game.

“I had a team of people practicing with me,” Sánchez said. “We kept in touch almost every day. I would record my sessions and send it over to [Swanson], and he would take a look, comment and have me making adjustments. That was the plan, to keep working on all the details.”

Making it official
The Yankees have placed infielder DJ LeMahieu and right-handed pitcher Luis Cessa on the 10-day injured list. Both players tested positive for COVID-19 prior to Summer Camp and are self-quarantining at their respective homes.

LeMahieu is asymptomatic, while Cessa has experienced mild symptoms. Both players permitted the Yankees to reveal their information. They must be free of symptoms and test negative twice at least 24 hours apart before they will be cleared to rejoin the roster.

Johnny on the spot
Jonathan Loaisiga passed his intake testing Wednesday and tossed in the bullpen at Yankee Stadium. Other than LeMahieu and Cessa, Loaisiga was the last player to report for Summer Camp. The right-hander was delayed traveling to New York from his native Nicaragua.

“I think he's going to be really valuable for us,” Boone said. “He's continued to develop. I feel like he was in the mix of a really good spring, not only just his game work but behind the scenes. He looks really good right now. He's come in ready to go.”

Tanaka Time
Masahiro Tanaka (concussion) responded well after increasing his heart rate during workouts on Wednesday, according to Boone. Tanaka was on the field Tuesday and Wednesday in order to gauge his sensitivity to sunlight. He has shown continued progress since being struck in the head by a line drive while pitching on Saturday.

“We're continuing to move cautiously and slow with him, but we’re at least encouraged with how he's how he's responding to what we've put in front of him so far,” Boone said.

Taking it easy
Clint Frazier has been slowed early in Summer Camp by a case of plantar fasciitis, according to Boone. Frazier was seen running in the Yankee Stadium outfield on Wednesday but did not participate when position players ran from first base to third base on the dirt.

“We've kind of held him back here in the early going of getting him out in the outfield, but he was out sprinting today, doing all his outfield work,” Boone said. “He’s doing all his baserunning and hitting, so I don't expect it to slow him much. We’re kind of just going easy with him here at the start.”

In another injury update, Kyle Higashioka (sore neck) should be ready to catch on Thursday, Boone said.

Up next
The Yankees will continue their Summer Camp workouts on Thursday at Yankee Stadium, playing an intrasquad game that is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET. Seven innings are expected to be played. The YES Network will air four hours of coverage beginning at 5 p.m. ET.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.