November 28, 2022

Gio Urshela says he was ‘confused’ when Yankees traded him to Twins

A still beardless Gio Urshela says he was ‘confused’ when the Yankees traded him to Minnesota. (Jon Blacker/AP)

MINNEAPOLIS — The only time Josh Donaldson got cheered in his return to Target Field on Tuesday was when he was lying in the dirt after being flipped by a Trevor Megill 97-mile an hour fastball. The third baseman, who the Twins dealt to the Yankees this spring, didn’t want to read intent into it.

“I don’t know, I was just trying to get out of the way of the ball,” Donaldson said.

Donaldson went 1-for-5 in the Yankees’ 10-4 win over the Twins.

He is a controversial player. Last year when the Yankees came in, he was the first player to publicly point the finger at Gerrit Cole using illegal foreign substances on his hands. Cole had a notoriously bad press conference that day but went out and shoved against the Twins.

Donaldson has been at the center of two benches-clearing incidents with the Yankees in his first 55 games and is waiting for a hearing to appeal his one-game suspension for an incident that started with him calling White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, who is black, “Jackie.”

Donaldson did not seem to be missed here. He was booed at every at-bat and only cheered when Megill’s pitch sent him falling over backwards.

“I mean, it is what it is. I mean, they cheered me when I was here,” Donaldson said of the fans’ reactions. “I mean, coming here as an opponent. That’s fine.”

OLD FRIENDS

Gio Urshela tried. The former Yankees third baseman got the urge like everyone that gets traded away. He tried to grow a beard.

“I couldn’t do it, too hard,” Urshela said with a laugh. “It was taking too long.”

Urshela said he was initially “confused” when told of the deal that sent him and Gary Sanchez to the Twins for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson and Ben Rortvedt on March 13.

“That day they said I was going to play shortstop,” Urshela said with a laugh before the series opener at Target Field between the Yankees and Twins, “and the next day I had a new team.”

Urshela has been through it before, unlike Sanchez, but they both pretty much have “turned the page,” on the Yankees chapter of their career. Still, they were looking forward to the chance of seeing their former teammates.

“It’s gonna be fun playing against my old teammates. A lot of memories of good times, the past three years,” Urshela said “I mean, every year I play there it’s going through my mind, I spend a lot of time there. My best year in my career was with the Yankees. so it’s gonna be fun.”

Urshela went 1-for-3 facing the Yankees for the first time since being dealt. Sanchez, who admitted to some extra adrenaline facing the Yankees, went 0-for-4.

Both said they had turned the page on their Yankees careers, but were grateful for the opportunities they had there. Even though he was a controversial player in New York at the end of his time in pinstripes, Sanchez was nothing but grateful.

“The opportunity to become a professional baseball player and the chance to be in the big leagues and opportunity even after being traded,” Sanchez said of his feelings toward the Yankees.

That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t relish a chance to play spoiler this October.

“Yeah, that would be fun,” Urshela said.

OUTFIELD ORDER

With Giancarlo Stanton out for the last two weeks, the Yankees adjusted their outfield to have Joey Gallo play right field, Aaron Judge at center and Aaron Hicks in right field. It’s an alignment they are still using now that Stanton is back as the designated hitter.

Boone said the outfield has become more flexible and that’s something that has helped them over the last few weeks.

“Obviously I’ve been more and more comfortable with playing Judge in center. So it’s just kind of transitioned a little bit that way, partly because of how the roster has ebbed and flowed a little bit over the last few weeks,” Boone said. “But I’m still comfortable going a lot of different ways and whether that means Joey in left, sliding Hicks back over in center and moving Judge to right which I’ll still do some. The season and roster construction and injury that pops up or a need pops up kind of dictates that sometimes.”

Stanton was the DH Tuesday night, but is expected to play in the outfield during this three game series.

“Probably tomorrow or possibly the next day or we’ll kind of kind of get through today,” Boone said. “He’s going to do a lot of work out there in the outfield today, I know. And then we’ll get through the game tonight and kind of decide.”

THE CALL

Boone has plans after Tuesday night’s game. His good friend — and Yankees former third base coach — Phil Nevin was named the Angels’ interim manager Tuesday.

“I had a missed call. During our staff meeting, then he texted ‘call me ASAP,’ so I called him when I got out of that meeting a couple hours ago. Yes, emotional. Really excited for him,” Boone said. “I think he’ll do great as a manager. …. I think he’s such a great baseball guy. He’s certainly paid his dues. He’s been probably close to landing a job a few different times where he’s probably been that runner up. But he’s poured a lot into this game and I’m happy for him to get an opportunity. And I’ll probably be watching his game tonight when we get back to the hotel.

“Watching the second half (of the Angels game),” Boone said. “I know he’s really excited.”

INJURY UPDATES

Jonathan Loaisiga, who is on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, did not throw Monday as expected.

“He is in Nicaragua. He had a family situation that he had to attend to,” Boone said. “So there’s a chance he could throw there today or tomorrow.”

Loaisiga went on the IL May 25 and was shut down from throwing for at least 10 days.

Aroldis Chapman was throwing on flat ground back in New York on Tuesday and with the injury there is “Nothing that’s holding him back at this point.”

“He’ll probably throw a bullpen when we get back. So I would guess, hopefully maybe that Friday or Saturday he’s throwing in the bullpen,” Boone said. “We’ll see where we’re at.”