How Andujar's return might impact Urshela

April 27th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- As attempts to avoid what would be a season-ending surgical procedure on his right shoulder, the infielder continues to provide the Yankees with reason for optimism, stroking five hits in his first six extended spring at-bats this weekend.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone now sees a clear path for Andujar's return to the big league lineup, which could be as soon as New York's series against the Twins next weekend. Yet Boone said he has felt no reason to discuss that progress with , who is filling in admirably as the starting third baseman in Andujar's absence.

"With our roster right now, there are still a lot of moving parts and a lot of people making their way back," Boone said. "Gio is doing a great job for us on both sides of the ball. He's had a huge impact on us being able to win games and we're really fortunate that we have a player like him that I think continues to grow in his game."

The slick-fielding Urshela hit his first Yankees homer earlier this week against the Angels in Anaheim. He went 2-for-5 with an RBI as the cleanup hitter in New York's 7-3 victory over the Giants on Friday, the highest the 27-year-old has ever started in a Major League lineup.

"We were excited when we were able to get him last year because of what we know he brings defensively at third base," Boone said. "But ever since Spring Training, he's showed me a lot with the bat and he's come up with a lot of big hits for us."

Andujar sustained a partial tear of his right labrum while diving into third base on March 31 against the Orioles. He was scheduled to take Sunday off, then play third base in an extended spring game Monday, after which Andujar would then join Class A Advanced Tampa for a brief Minor League rehab assignment.

"We'll just see how this next week unfolds and how we think he's doing in the field," Boone said. "I don't think there's going to be any issues swinging the bat."

Ellsbury delay

Of the 13 players on the Yankees' injury list, Jacoby Ellsbury's timetable remains the murkiest. The outfielder has not played in a Major League game since October 2017, and Boone said Saturday that Ellsbury is no longer swinging a bat.

"Ells is just kind of dealing with different things, so he's not that far along," Boone said. "He's had a number of little things that continue to pop up ... just from shoulder to hip and whatnot. He's doing OK, but working through things as well."

Boone said the Yankees are proceeding as though Ellsbury will not join them this season. Ellsbury ($21.1 million) is the third-highest paid player on the Yankees' 2019 roster, behind only Giancarlo Stanton ($26 million) and Masahiro Tanaka ($22 million).

"It's frustrating for him, obviously, and for us," Boone said. "He's had so many nagging to big issues that he's had to deal with that haven't allowed him to get over that hump and really get rolling in his baseball activities. When you're a really good player and things are keeping you from being able to get on the field, that's frustrating."

Kahn-do spirit

Tommy Kahnle struck out the only batter he faced in Friday's win over the Giants and has not allowed a hit or run in 10 of his 11 appearances this season. He has retired 18 of his last 19 batters and said he feels much healthier than he did last season, when he posted a 6.56 ERA in 24 big league appearances.

"I was able to rework through last year's failures and come into this spring looking healthy, looking good," Kahnle said. "I think it opened some eyes for me to come in and drop the weight [close to 30 pounds] and show them that I'm serious. I wanted to look like my old self, not the person I was last year. I wasn't in a good place last year."

Kahnle said he dropped the weight by increasing his lifting regimen and adhering to a healthier diet, staying away from sweets and fatty foods, as well as cutting out his habit of chugging five Red Bulls a day. He credits his wife, Veronica, for helping him take that fitness to the next level.

"It really worked," Kahnle said. "I would definitely credit a lot to my wife. We eat like that every offseason, but I really took it to a next level to try to be lighter. Maybe it would help my delivery, being able to repeat my delivery more."

This date in Yankees history

April 27, 1947: "Babe Ruth Day" was celebrated at Yankee Stadium and throughout the Major Leagues. Dressed in a top coat and hat, Ruth thanked the fans in an on-field ceremony. It marked Ruth's second-to-last appearance at the Stadium, battling throat cancer that claimed his life less than four months later.