The Yankees' Miguel Andujar watches a sacrifice fly against the Baltimore Orioles on April 7, 2018, during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium.

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Palladino: Brandon Drury’s Migraines Could Be Miguel Andujar’s Opening

Rookie 3B Has Opportunity To Prove He Belongs

Ernie Palladino
April 09, 2018 - 9:15 am
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Given the nature of migraine headaches, there’s no telling when Brandon Drury will return to the Yankees’ lineup.

For now, he’s out 10 days. But, if Monday’s tests indicate the pounding pain and blurred vision common among so many sufferers of migraines is more than a passing thing, the third baseman could be inactive much longer.

That means an extended shot for Miguel Andujar, the rookie who now becomes the prime option at third after an excellent spring training but slow start to the regular season. He went into Sunday’s game 1-for-15 in four contests since replacing the DL'ed Brian McKinney the third game of the season. So consider this an extended shot to prove he truly belongs in a big-league uniform.

This situation is nothing new, of course. Injuries happen in all sports. And when they do, it’s a chance for the next man up to contribute. Unfortunately for the Yanks, those opportunities seem to come in bunches these days.

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With CC Sabathia also going out Saturday with a right hip strain, and others including Greg Bird (ankle surgery), Gary Sanchez (leg cramps), Tyler Wade (flu-like symptoms), Aaron Hicks (ribs) and the recent hip-related setback in Jacoby Ellsbury’s comeback from a spring training oblique strain, the Yanks have had plenty of holes to fill.

At least Hicks could be reactivated in time for Tuesday’s series opener in Boston, so that’s one less headache for Aaron Boone. And Sanchez, available only for pinch-hitting duty Sunday, may not have to go on the DL at all.

Fortunately, all of this is happening early in the season. Boone can only hope the calendar will bring with it a healthier outlook along with warmer weather. After all, the 5-5 record they’ll bring into Fenway Park looks nothing like the one everyone expected after a blockbuster offseason. Especially since the prize power acquisition, NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton put up his second platinum sombrero (five strikeouts) in a week during Sunday’s 12-inning, 8-7 loss to the Orioles.

But at least Andujar gets a regular shot now after hitting .267 with four homers and 10 RBIs in spring training to earn himself the James P. Dawson Award as the team’s top prospect in spring training. And Baseball America did rank him as one of the team’s most promising minor leaguers heading into the season.

Whether he’s ready for a full-time spot, however, remains to be seen. The 0-for-12 in his three games before he singled and then hit a sacrifice fly for the lead in Saturday’s 8-3 win over the Orioles didn’t look good on the old résumé.

He started in Thursday’s 5-2 loss to those same Orioles and went 0-for-3 with a popout with two on in the seventh before Drury pinch-hit for him in the ninth.

But that will soon be forgotten if the regular work allows Andujar to flash as he did in sunny Florida. That resurgence actually started Sunday during their second extra-inning affair in three days. He played the whole game at third, went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and didn’t make an error.

The real mystery in all this involves Drury. By his own admission, he has suffered from migraines for the past six years. But there was little mention of the condition when he came over from the Arizona for a couple of prospects in a three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Rays.

Yankees third baseman Brandon Drury throws to first base to force out the Blue Jays' Randal Grichuk on April 1, 2018, at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
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In fact, he basically hid them from the team until he finally got tired of powering through them. He was pulled in the sixth inning of Friday’s 14-inning marathon loss. Only then did the extent of the problem become known, even though Drury admitted he’d had symptoms as recently as spring training.

That’s pretty serious stuff, especially in a sport where a hard ball is coming at 90-plus mph. Drury should have been forthcoming about it long before this, even if it meant a round of extensive testing before the trade was completed. More than that, there’s a question of why the Diamondbacks made only passing notice of a 2016 MRI for the same issues on his medical dossier.

Perhaps, the Yanks should have been more alert when their third baseman complained to the trainers of a headache last week in Toronto.

Apparently, the Excedrin they handed him then didn’t do the trick.

Sounds like either the Diamondbacks unloaded some damaged goods or the Yanks let a potentially serious condition fall through the medical cracks.

But that is neither here nor there now. Drury will undergo testing Monday. With any luck, that will reveal the true extent of the problem and the length of his inactivity.

Until he gets back, Andujar gets an opportunity to prove that he, too, belongs in the Yankees' infield.

It’s up to Andujar to turn a big Yankee headache into his own blessing.

Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino