In a season that has become about his versatility, Isiah Kiner-Falefa showed off one more talent Wednesday.
The former infielder turned super-utilityman can throw, too.
The everyday shortstop in 2022, who has played more this year in the outfield, recorded his first two career assists from left field in the Yankees’ 7-2 win over the Rays in The Bronx, a game Kiner-Falefa did not know if he would be around for.
Ahead of the trade deadline Tuesday, the Yankees listened as opposing teams made offers for players who are set to be free agents.
No match was found, and Kiner-Falefa, Harrison Bader, Luis Severino and Wandy Peralta stayed put.
“I’m happy to be here. I was screaming at six o’clock [Tuesday], when they didn’t call my name,” Kiner-Falefa said after another strong night. “Thank God I’m a Yankee.”
Perhaps he was able to relax. His arm sure looked fresh.
Kiner-Falefa threw out a pair of runners trying to stretch singles into doubles, helping Gerrit Cole not allow a run past the first inning.
With two out in the second inning, Rene Pinto grounded a ball past DJ LeMahieu and down the third-base line. Kiner-Falefa played it well off the wall in foul territory and came up firing to second base, where Gleyber Torres made the quick tag, as Pinto barreled into him, for the final out of the inning.
Manuel Margot also tested Kiner-Falefa, who passed again.
Leading off the fifth, Margot smacked a hit into left, but Kiner-Falefa got a good break and reached the ball quickly. Margot tried for second anyway, but a second strike thrown to Torres — who applied another nice tag — arrived in plenty of time.
“Guys play the game aggressive,” said Kiner-Falefa, who has played every position except catcher and first base this year. “I probably would have run on myself in those situations, too.”
Kiner-Falefa had not played the outfield in a major league game before this season, but has appeared on the grass 67 times thus far.
He has been playable in the outfield, but showed a different level Wednesday.
“That was big,” manager Aaron Boone said of the assists. “But Izzy’s just playing well all-around, and it’s good to see.”
There have been pockets of the season during which Kiner-Falefa’s versatility still has not enabled him to crack into the lineup because he was not hitting.
Those times might be in the past.
The righty-hitting Kiner-Falefa was atop the Yankees’ order against lefty Shane McClanahan and came through with a single and walk in four plate appearances, raising his OPS to .698.
In his past 37 games, the do-everything fielder is batting .309 with nearly as many walks (15) as strikeouts (19).
He has done some of everything this season, now including frustrating the Rays with a strong arm.
“I’m not surprised,” shortstop Anthony Volpe said. “He’s got a cannon.”