Andujar hopes improved footwork reduces errors

February 20th, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. -- The buzz at the hot corner in Yankees camp has focused on 's pre-pitch setup, as the club believes that a selection of subtle changes will improve the third baseman's defensive skills.

Andujar worked with infield coach Carlos Mendoza and manager Aaron Boone this past offseason, both in the Dominican Republic and in Tampa, with the focus on reducing the 15 errors that he committed in his rookie season -- a number that ranked fourth among big league third basemen.

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"The plan on defense since the offseason has been to improve my ready position, improve my first step, improve my direction when you’re making a throw," Andujar said through an interpreter. "So a combination of different things that should allow me to be better."

The runner-up in last year's American League Rookie of the Year Award voting, Andujar is far from a finished defensive product, having registered a -25 DRS (defensive runs saved) last year. However, he led all Major League rookies in hits (170), doubles (47), extra-base hits (76) and multihit games (53), tying for first in homers (27).

Boone said that Andujar's focus has been on being in "a really good athletic position" before each pitch, rather than on his footwork or throwing mechanics. Andujar frequently throws from a three-quarters motion rather than over the top and taps the ball in his glove before throws, but Andujar said that he has not been told to make changes in those areas.

"I think it's a matter of combining everything to have better rhythm when moving," Andujar said. "Combining it all, it's the final goal. I just think it's a matter of combining everything so that everything is smooth and the rhythm is really good."

Though DJ LeMahieu is capable of playing third base, Boone said that he does not anticipate using LeMahieu as a late-inning defensive replacement.

"With Miggy, the work he's put in and where I believe he is and where I believe he is going defensively, I don't necessarily see that coming up," Boone said.

Word on Bird

There is a "noticeable difference" in Greg Bird's swing quality, according to Boone, who said that he believes the first baseman will benefit from adding some weight over the winter. Bird said that he packed on about 20 pounds, mostly by making changes to his diet.

"I definitely feel like he's added some weight in a good way," Boone said. "Clearly he feels like he's through some of the physical things that were holding him back a little bit last year. I think there is a different way he's impacted the ball this year. I think that is noticeable when you watch his cage work and batting practice."

Gleyber good

Gleyber Torres is drawing positive reviews for his winter work, coming off a campaign that saw the infielder rank second among big league rookies in RBIs (77) and fourth in homers (24).

"Gleyber is hungry. Gleyber wants to be a great player in this league," Boone said. "I think he worked really hard this winter to put himself in a good position coming in. At 21 years of age last year, the kind of season he was able to have for us, I feel like I am excited to say there wasn't a real satisfaction from him. It was, ‘I want to get better. I want to be great at this.’ I think that's what he showed this winter with the work he's put in."

Bombers bits

Troy Tulowitzki is expected to make his Yankees Grapefruit League debut at home on Monday or Tuesday, Boone said. He added, "We'll ease him in; a few innings, a couple at-bats, then a few days off," with the hope of seeing him in back-to-back games later this spring. Tulowitzki, who expressed his desire to win a World Series ring with the Yankees, is not expected to play any position other than shortstop.

• Six pitchers took the mound for batting practice on Wednesday morning: Danny Coulombe, Cale Coshow, Phillip Diehl, Joe Harvey, Jonathan Loaisiga and Stephen Tarpley.