Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has been impressed by the September play of young shortstop Richard Urena, who's looked like an old pro playing the position in his first taste of big-league action this month. The 21-year-old has put up a .776 OPS in his first 11 games and even laced a walk-off hit earlier this week.
One thing it seems Urena won't be able to do, however, is unseat incumbent Troy Tulowitzki.
Although Gibbons went out of his way to praise Urena for how he's performed, the skipper reiterated Friday that Tulowitzki - who's out for the season with a sprained ankle - isn't about to become the Canadian version of Wally Pipp next March.
"Tulo is our shortstop. Urena won't be there next year playing it," Gibbons told MLB Network Radio.
That vote of confidence from his manager should ease Tulowitzki's mind going into the spring given the scrutiny that's surrounded his disappointing 2017 season. His numbers declined both offensively and defensively this year, prompting questions about his future given his history and large contract. But the two-time Gold Glove shortstop has already insisted he won't be moving off his natural position anytime soon.
If Tulowitzki is indeed entrenched at shortstop in Toronto, Urena will either have to shift positions or simply bide his time and wait for an opening. Wherever he's playing in 2018, the young switch-hitter's already left Gibbons predicting big things for him in the future.
"(Urena's) left a great impression on us," he said. "If anything, he's got that tough part out of the way where he (can say) 'I've done this, I've had some success in the big leagues,' and that will do wonders for him next year wherever he's playing."