For much of the spring, the New York Yankees made outfielders Jay Bruce (signed to a minor league deal with an invitation to camp) and Mike Tauchman work and compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
As it turns out, the Luke Voit knee injury opened up a spot for Bruce and Yankeesâ€™ manager Aaron Boone ended up choosing Tauchmanâ€™s defensive prowess in the outfield over Derek Dietrichâ€™s versatility, so both Tauchman and Bruce made the team. The latter will fill in for Voit until May, when he returns from the injury list.
But reporters covering the team at Yankee Stadium got a surprise at the teamâ€™s latest practice on Wednesday morning. The Bombers had Tauchman get some reps at first base, â€˜coachedâ€™ by Bruce.
The Yankees love Tauchmanâ€™s defense, will he work as a backup 1B?
Tauchman made the team because he is a gifted defensive player in the outfield. He had 19 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) for the Yankees in 2019, his last full, normal season. His offensive struggles in 2020 left him on the verge of being on the outside looking when it comes to a roster spot, but he had a nice spring with the stick, with three home runs and a .250/.382/.571 line (.954 OPS), convincing Boone that he can be a valuable piece.
By virtue of Voitâ€™s injury, the Yankeesâ€™ first base depth is extremely thin, with Bruce expected to cover but not a lot of other options (shifting DJ LeMahieu there would alter the whole infield). If Tauchman shows he can be a capable first baseman, his playing time is sure to increase, at least in the first few weeks of the season.
A couple of weeks ago, the Yankees hadnâ€™t approached Tauchman with the idea of playing first base, but he said to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that he was open to the idea. It seems the Yankees monitored the news, as they are trying him there to see what they got.