TODAY'S PAPER

Gleyber Torres ready to defend at shortstop for Yankees just as Derek Jeter did

Gleyber Torres will be part of a nice double-play combination second baseman with DJ LeMahieu. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Gleyber Torres doesn’t have to be the guy to replace Derek Jeter as the Yankees shortstop. But he does have to be the guy who replaced the guy who replaced Jeter.

Torres will take over at shortstop this season after the Yankees allowed Didi Gregorius to leave as a free agent and sign with the Phillies.

Continue reading for just $1

Only $1 for 5 months of unlimited access to Newsday.com

Gleyber Torres doesn’t have to be the guy to replace Derek Jeter as the Yankees shortstop. But he does have to be the guy who replaced the guy who replaced Jeter.

Torres will take over at shortstop this season after the Yankees allowed Didi Gregorius to leave as a free agent and sign with the Phillies.

advertisement

Torres was a natural shortstop in the minors before moving to second base as a rookie in 2018. He played mostly shortstop in the first half of 2019 before Gregorius returned from Tommy John surgery, so the 23-year-old certainly is familiar with what he on Tuesday night fondly called “my position.”

Jeter, of course, was recently elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Torres said he’s hoping to honor that lineage.

“Now it’s my time to defend his position,” he said. “Just try to do it like him.”

If Torres does it like he has in his first two seasons, he may one day join Jeter in Cooperstown. After hitting .271 with 24 HRs and 77 RBIs in 2018, Torres hit .278 with 38 HRs and 90 RBIs last season.

A good defensive second baseman, he was even better at short, and Torres could team with former Gold Glove award winner DJ LeMahieu to give the Yankees a super double-play combination.

“We know Didi did a really good job,” Torres said at the 40th Thurman Munson awards dinner at Chelsea Piers, where he was honored along with former Yankees manager Lou Piniella, Mets outfielder/third baseman J.D. Davis, former Mets closer John Franco and basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman for their charitable work. “But now the team needs me and I’ll get the opportunity to play my position. I’m just spending my offseason trying to get better, be better, and help my team.”

Subscribe to Sports Now newsletter

By clicking Sign up, you agree to our privacy policy.

Torres — like every single person associated with baseball eventually has been or will be — was asked his view of the Astros sign-stealing scandal. He called it “a really bad thing for baseball.”

advertisement

Does he think the Astros robbed the Yankees of a title? (Torres wasn’t on the 2017 Yankees team that lost to Houston in the ALCS, but he was on the 2019 team that lost to Houston in the same round.)

“Maybe,” Torres said. “But like I said, it’s tough. I don’t want to say something wrong right now. I’m just focusing on the night, trying to enjoy it, and for sure next week I can tell everything about what I think about the Astros.”

Davis — who had 62 at-bats for the 2017 Astros — said he didn’t want to discuss the sign-stealing situation. Davis said he has spent the offseason working on his agility. He did a nice job sidestepping any Astros questions.

It’s unclear if he’ll spend more time in the outfield or infield this season, but Davis said he is prepared for either scenario.

“I’m super stoked,” he said. “I know I can’t be much faster, but I can become a better baseball player. First step or lateral ability, I’ve been working on that since pretty much the second or third week of October.”