Brandon Drury saw his third start of the season at first base for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Tuesday night in Allentown.
But despite playing first base for the second time since Thursday, and an errorless effort at that, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone tempered expectations of Drury the first baseman.
Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs was just Drury’s fourth appearance at the postion since 2012. Something he’s never done in the majors.
“He’s getting some more first base reps down in Triple-A as well as playing third,” Boone told NJ Advance Media prior to Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies. “Obviously, he’s had experience at second, so we’re trying to keep that versatility open with Brandon. As far as being (a big-league) option, I don’t know about that yet. Obviously, he’s playing well. We want him to continue to play well and continue to get the reps that will add to his versatility.”
Boone’s comments fit the mold of what RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said of Drury playing first during the team’s recent homestand.
The plan, for now, is to have Drury play first base twice a week. It’s a decision Mitchell said came from above.
“It’s not a lot different from playing third, even though you have the balls in the dirt. That’s probably the one part of playing first that’s probably difficult and hard to master right away,” Mitchell said. “Fielding and making throws to second on a double play, he looked good. He’s just athletic and moves around the bag real well.
“He’s fine. I mean, I have no problem putting him over there and expecting him to field the ball and make outs.”
When you look at both the Yankees and RailRiders’ rosters, position versatility has a big presence.
New York has Neil Walker, who can play first, second and third base, while Torres can play shortstop and second and third base. Even first baseman Greg Bird can catch in emergencies and third baseman Miguel Andujar can do the same at first base.
For the RailRiders, Tyler Wade plays everything but first base and catch. Ronald Torreyes is similar but without center field in his repertoire. He can catch, however. And both Tyler Austin and Billy McKinney can play first base and the outfield.
Drury is no exception, now starting to master first base along with third and second.
“I would say right now it’s just a versatility piece,” Boone said. “With how the game is going with more pitchers on a roster, more versatility with guys that were on the bench, I think is really valuable. The fact that he’s getting some reps down there, he’s played really well at third down there. Obviously playing second in the past, that versatility is really attractive. Especially with players that we really think highly of like Brandon.”
Big eighth propels RailRiders
Trailing 2-1 with two innings to play Tuesday against the IronPigs, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre used a two-run eighth inning to slide past the division rivals 3-2.
With Brandon Leibrandt on the mound for Lehigh Valley, Billy McKinney led off the frame with a single to left while Tyler Austin walked in the next at-bat. After Zack Zehner bunted the pair over a base each, Bruce Caldwell tied the game 2-2 with an RBI groundout that scored McKinney and pushed Austin over to third base.
Rey Navarro put the RailRiders ahead for good with a two-out RBI double to left.
McKinney, Navarro and L.J. Mazzilli all had two hits apiece while Tommy Kahnle picked up his second win as a RailRider, pitching a scoreless eighth.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle