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Urshela called up, will get starts at third base

Estrada optioned to Triple-A; Andujar hopes for brief stint on IL
@BryanHoch
April 6, 2019

BALTIMORE -- Gio Urshela owns a reputation as a strong defender, and the veteran third baseman says that new adjustments should allow him to be a more impactful big league hitter. He is remaining tight-lipped on what those edits were, but the Yankees figure to give him chances to prove

BALTIMORE -- Gio Urshela owns a reputation as a strong defender, and the veteran third baseman says that new adjustments should allow him to be a more impactful big league hitter. He is remaining tight-lipped on what those edits were, but the Yankees figure to give him chances to prove if they work.

Urshela joined the Yankees ahead of Saturday's contest against the Orioles at Camden Yards, as the club selected his contract from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and signed him to a Major League deal. The 27-year-old was acquired from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash considerations last May.

"Once I got traded to the Yankees, I made some adjustments to the swing," Urshela said. "I changed a few things here and there, and they are working out for me right now. I can't tell [what they are]. ... When you make an adjustment and see it paying off, you are going to feel good about it."

In corresponding moves, infielder Thairo Estrada was optioned to Triple-A, ending a two-day stint in the big leagues after he was recalled on Thursday. Shortstop Didi Gregorius was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

With Miguel Andujar out for an unspecified period of time due to a torn right labrum, manager Aaron Boone said that he will shuffle his infield again. Urshela will receive most of the starts at third base, with Gleyber Torres manning shortstop and DJ LeMahieu handling second base. Tyler Wade could see backup time at all three of those positions.

"With our roster situation right now, [Urshela] is going to play," Boone said. "He'll play a lot of third base for us. I would say he'll be in there quite a bit while he's here. Then the other guys, obviously with DJ and Wade, those are guys that we feel more comfortable moving around. Gio, we view primarily as a third baseman and an elite defender over there."

Urshela has played 167 Major League games across three seasons with the Indians (2015, '17) and Blue Jays (2018), batting .225/.274/.315 with 16 doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 39 RBIs.

A bout of right Achilles tendinitis kept Urshela off the field in the beginning of Spring Training, but he batted .321 (9-for-28) with two homers and three RBIs in 11 Grapefruit League games, and was 4-for-8 with two doubles through a pair of games at Triple-A.

"We saw a guy that was really not only hitting well and having good at-bats, but impacting the ball and hitting the ball with authority to all fields," Boone said. "I asked him about that; 'Have you made some adjustments and some things you've done?' He said yes. I think he's using his body, using his strength and legs a little bit better overall."

Hot corner

While Urshela projects to see regular duty at third base, Andujar is optimistic that his stint on the injured list can be brief. Andujar resumed taking ground balls at third base prior to Saturday's game, though he is not throwing or swinging a bat yet. Andujar could play catch next week, Boone said.

"There's a chance it's not going to be a long thing," Boone said. "There's a chance that if it doesn't go, it could be surgery, which compromises the season. So it's kind of one or the other. We're optimistic because of the strength that he's showing in all of his testing."

Injury report

• Right-hander Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement) threw 36 pitches in a bullpen session on Friday and has been cleared to face hitters on Monday.

• Outfielder Aaron Hicks (chronic back pain) has been throwing for two days, and Boone said that it went well. Hicks is expected to resume hitting in the next few days.

• Left-hander CC Sabathia (recovery from angioplasty) is scheduled to start for Class A Advanced Tampa on Sunday, a 1 p.m. ET game against Lakeland. It figures to be Sabathia's only Minor League start before he rejoins the big league club, throwing approximately 60-70 pitches.

• Right-hander Luis Severino (right shoulder inflammation) has long-tossed at distances greater than 120 feet and could soon return to the mound. Boone said that "we feel like he's really close to being there."

• Outfielder/designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (left biceps strain) is "seeing improvements," according to Boone.

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