Miguel Andujar ‘happy’ for Pirates chance after turbulent Yankees career

Finishing the season with the lowly Pirates is better than playing it out in the minor league system of a World Series contender.

On Sunday, Pittsburgh claimed Miguel Andujar off waivers from the Yankees. The next night, the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up was in the Pirates’ lineup, going 1-for-3 at DH with an RBI and a run scored in an 8-3 victory over the Reds in Pittsburgh.

The 27-year-old apparently harbors no ill feelings for being cast aside by his former club even as it marches toward the postseason while the Pirates sit comfortably in last place in the NL Central at 57-97 — he’s just happy to be playing at the big league level.

“I’m super happy to be here,” Andujar told reporters. “When I heard the news, I was happy to come here. It’s really exciting.”

What he didn’t do, at least on Monday, was complain about not getting the at-bats he felt he deserved as a Yankee.

Andujar spent 11 years with the Yankees organization, signing with them in 2011 and working his way up through the ranks before his debut in 2017. After a breakout rookie campaign that had him a spot behind Shohei Ohtani in the Rookie of the Year race, he has struggled to regularly replicate that success. Over parts of six seasons, he slashed .273/.303/.449, hitting 35 homers and tallying 122 RBI while spending time at third, first and the outfield.

His time in New York was marred by inconsistent play, injuries and bouncing between the Yankees and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Andjuar complained about a “lack of consistent opportunity,” requested to be traded and was ultimately designated for assignment after the Yankees couldn’t find a deal for him at the trade deadline.

“It’s part of the game,” Andujar said Monday. “I played the best I can, controlled what I can control.”

Why in his opinion didn’t it work for him with the Yankees?

“I think I just had a lot of confidence [in 2018],” Andujar said. “I think playing every day helped me get into a good routine and I could be the best version of myself out on the field.”

Perhaps that version will emerge in Pittsburgh.

After hitting .285 with 13 homers and 51 RBI in 71 games with Scranton, Andujar hopes to find consistency with the Pirates. Though he still has three years of team control, he’ll be out of options next season, meaning that Pittsburgh must keep him or risk another team snatching him up. He’ll get an opportunity to showcase himself over the final weeks of the season regardless.

“For me, if I’m in the game, I’m happy,” Andujar said. “That’s what I want.”

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