Like many Yankees last season, OF Mike Tauchman was called upon to fill in for starters that hit the IL. Between the injuries for Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge, Tauchman had plenty of opportunities to impress in his first season as a Yankee, and he did just that.
Until the injury bug caught up with him toward the end of the season.
A Grade 2 calf strain suffered at the beginning of September ended Tauchman's campaign, as the Yankees lost yet another key contributor to their lineup. Stanton, Miguel Andujar, and later on Luke Voit would join that list as well.
"Unfortunately, it was kinda one of those things where right away I knew that whatever it showed wasn't going to be good," he said Monday at the Yankees' spring training facility in Tampa. "But at the time I wasn't really processing it because it just became about trying to get back on the field. Did my best to do that and obviously we just kinda ran out of time a little bit.
"It was disappointing, but at the same time, motivating heading into this season."
Tauchman played a little over a half-season (87 games), and proved the trade with the Rockies for an unknown minor-leaguer was the right move by GM Brian Cashman. He slashed .277/.361/.504 with 13 homers, 18 doubles and 47 RBI working as one of many replacements the Yankees were lucky enough to have produce last year.
"I think that the group we had last year, there was a large number of us that weren't counted on to play when you drew it up in spring training," he explained. "I think a lot of us, whether it was Gio Urshela or Mike Ford, Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, we had a lot of guys that really stepped up and performed and led to obviously a successful regular season."
Now Tauchman heads into his first spring training with the Yankees fixing to be their primary bench option in the outfield -- if he can prove to the Yankees that he is 100 percent healthy and shows those results. Players like Frazier and Wade will be battling for that role with Tauchman, but no matter what role the Yankees have in mind for him, Tauchman is going to continue to fight for his playing time.
And that starts right now.
"I wasn't even here last year in spring training, so in that regard, it's entirely different," he said. "My goal is just to be a better baseball player this year than I was before."
"What I can control is having productive days at work, getting ready for the season, and whatever my role, that's what I'm going to do."