TAMPA — A year ago, Mike Tauchman was buried in the Rockies’ system before being dealt to the Yankees in a late spring training transaction that cost Tyler Wade a big-league roster spot.
Acquired for lefty Phillip Diehl to provide outfield depth, Tauchman developed into a productive left-handed hitting outfielder and helped cover for injuries to Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks before a strained left calf in September ended his season. In 87 games, Tauchman batted .277 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs.
“I am grateful for the opportunity I got,’’ Tauchman said Monday morning at Steinbrenner Field where position players reported to camp. “Our team dealt with significant injuries last year. We won a lot of games , but at the same time it is the New York Yankees and [we are] expected to win a championship.’’
Had Tauchman been healthy enough, he might have helped the Yankees overcome the Astros in last year’s ALCS which they lost when Jose Altuve won Game 6 with a series-ending home run off Aroldis Chapman.
At the least Tauchman would have been available to play left field where Stanton started Game 1 after playing in just 18 regular-season games or center field where Hicks started the final four regular-season games after not playing since Aug. 3 because of a right elbow problem that required Tommy John surgery following the ALCS.
General manager Brian Cashman said there was a chance Tauchman would be healthy enough to be a roster consideration for the World Series. Monday, Tauchman said he was “very close’’ when asked about his chances of potentially being on the World Series roster.
With third base Gio Urshela’s to lose and Miguel Andujar playing in only a dozen games last season due to a right shoulder injury suffered in April that required surgery, Andujar will get a look at first base and the outfield.
Andujar took fly balls in the outfield of Field 3 with Aaron Judge on Monday.
“We will get him out there in a lot of different situations and positions but also being mindful of the demands that creates,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “That being something new we have to be mindful of. Even though he is in a good place physically, we have to make sure that continues. I could see him bouncing around a little bit fairly early in spring training.’’
J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka threw live batting practice without drawing the attention Gerrit Cole did on Sunday when the Steinbrenner Field crowd was bigger and the media intensely watching the new Yankees ace’s every movement.
Happ threw a total of 28 pitches in two innings and Tanaka 20 in one frame.
According to Boone, Tanaka is working on a cut fastball to go with a regular fastball, a slider and split.
“I thought it was sharp today,’’ Boone said of the cutter. “The slider was a little bit off, but I thought he executed his split and really the cutter which is a focal point for him. If he can incorporate that, I think it becomes something that really opens up the other half of the plate and goes a long way in setting up his split and his slider.’’
Boone represented the Yankees on Sunday at commissioner Rob Manfred’s press conference at the new spring training home of the Braves in North Port, Fla. On Monday he was asked if the Yankees received guidance on how MLB is going to change the access to TV monitors this season after the Astros’ cheating scandal.
“It was talked about a lot so we got a lot of thoughts, but nothing has been finalized yet,’’ Boone said. “I think there is a negotiating element to it, a little bit of back and forth. But it is my understanding that some significant changes will be on the way for this year.’’