Urshela eager for more reps at short in '22

October 13th, 2021

NEW YORK -- appeared at shortstop in 28 games for the Yankees this past season, taking over at the position when Gleyber Torres returned to second base in September.

It wasn’t viewed as a permanent solution, but Urshela embraced the experience so much that he would enjoy continuing to get reps there next season, he told the New York Post.

“I kind of liked it,” Urshela told the newspaper. “I really enjoyed playing shortstop, because you get more involved in the game. Every play, you’re going to be involved. Third base, I just wait for the [ball] and that’s it. You don’t move that much. It feels a little bit different, like you get more tired probably after a game [at shortstop].

“You’ve got to move … but at the same time, I like it.”

Urshela spoke to the newspaper during an appearance at Community School 55 in The Bronx, where he handed out bobblehead dolls of himself to fourth- and fifth-graders.

The Yankees have numerous decisions to settle in the wake of their American League Wild Card Game elimination by the Red Sox, following a 92-win campaign. Manager Aaron Boone’s contract situation is unsettled and the club has several notable potential free agents, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo, right-hander Corey Kluber and outfielder Brett Gardner.

Shortstop appears to be a place where the Yankees might look to upgrade, especially considering a loaded free-agent class that projects to include Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Trevor Story. If Rizzo departs, Luke Voit could reclaim first base, or the Yanks might look to install the versatile DJ LeMahieu there to accommodate Torres and Urshela at other infield spots.

Urshela told the Post that he would like to see Boone return, crediting the manager’s confidence for his impressive 2019 performance, when he grabbed hold of the Yanks’ third-base job by slashing .314/.355/.534 (133 OPS+) with 34 doubles, 21 homers and 74 RBIs in 132 games.

“Boone is a very good manager, a really good person,” Urshela said. “I really love Boone -- the way he is, how he managed the team. I hope we can see him back.”

This past season, Urshela posted a .267/.301/.419 slash line (96 OPS+) with 18 doubles, 14 homers and 49 RBIs in 116 games. He made what Rays manager Kevin Cash described as potentially “the catch of the year” in the Yanks’ season finale, sustaining multiple bruises as he tumbled down the steps of Yankee Stadium’s visiting dugout at full speed.

“[I’m] much better,” Urshela said.