In an unexpected Spring Training storyline, the answer to the hot issue at the hot corner has finally come to light.
The Indians announced Thursday afternoon that Yandy Diaz will join Michael Martinez on the Opening Day roster, barring injury, answering the question of who would fill in for Jose Ramirez at third base.
Ramirez will take over for Jason Kipnis at second base while he recovers from a nagging shoulder injury that should sideline the All-Star for another 3-4 weeks.
In corresponding moves, 3B Giovanny Urshela and UT Erik Gonzalez were optioned to Triple-A. To fit both Diaz and Gonzalez on the 40-man roster, another move will need to be made.
Upon Kipnis’ diagnosis, Diaz and Urshela found themselves in a competition for the first few weeks at third, with Diaz providing plenty of argument off the bat and Urshela seeming the safe bet in the field.
Diaz responded by posting the highest batting average of any Indian who saw 10 at-bats in Cactus League play, posting a split of .429/.529/.667 as of March 29. Urshela split .268/.311/.463.
Terry Francona, forced to speak on the matter numerous times in the spring, had expressed concern for Diaz’s defense at third and how it transitioned to the majors.
Comparatively, Diaz was better statistically in the spring, committing a single error in 11 chances over 50 innings, while Urshela committed three in 14 chances over 75 frames.
Martinez was retained as the team’s utility man in order to continue to get Gonzalez consistent at-bats at the minor-league level.