By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
Jay Bruce has made a splash as a non-roster invitee in Yankees’ camp.
Miguel Andujar is still in camp, and his future with the parent club still is in doubt.
Both should have their fate in pinstripes decided within two weeks. Unless there is a major trade, the final bench slots will be the hottest item in camp down the stretch.
The Yankees’ bench situation should be easy to figure out. Manager Aaron Boone recently stated that he wants 13 pitchers and 13 positional players on the 2021 roster.
Bruce, who stated that he always wanted to be a Yankee in his 13-year career, and he had made it interesting for Boone and GM Brian Cashman.
A traditional slow-starter, Bruce was hitting .400 with two homers and has been the talk of the camp through Friday’s games. He could easily serve as an outfielder or a DH, but more importantly, the once former Met provides a veteran presence.
The lefthanded swinging 33-year-old does have an ace in his pocket, as he can opt out of his deal on March 25 should he feel his future isn’t with the Yanks.
Bruce’s rise has shed some doubt on Mike Tauchman, who proved invaluable in the team’s 2019 run after the lefthanded swinger came over from Colorado.
Through Friday, Tauchman was hitting .200 in Florida. He appeared to have his spot secured before Bruce arrived.
Andjuar has been working out in the outfield as well as third base, where he anticipated a battle with incumbent Gio Urchela.
He burst onto the scene in 2018 with his 27 homer, 94 RBI, .297 line. All indications pointed to the Yankees having their 23-year-old third baseman for the future.
That suddenly ended in 2019 when Andjuar spent the majority of the season with an injured shoulder, and his once bright future a screeching halt.
Andujar was shifted to the outfield in 2020 and a slow start cand was demoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He has never regained the promise he once showed.
Surprisingly, he has become the man without a position in Yankeeland.
There is constant chatter of Andjuar being the subject of trade rumors or beginning the year in the cozy confines of northeast Pennsylvania.
Tyler Wade looks like a lock for the utility infield position. Yet, there are power-hitting lefty Mike Ford, who has been a timely call-up in the recent past, and veteran Derek Dietrich, a 31-year-old ex-Ranger who can play second and the outfield.
Kyle Higashioka again will be Gary Sanchez’s backup behind the plate.
Spring training numbers for anyone except a rookie are usually as relevant as preseason football ones in the same category.
This spring, they could make a difference in the status of Bruce, Tauchman, and possibly Andujar among the others.
In the next two weeks, those final roster spots selections are bound to be interesting.