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After slump, Gleyber Torres is trending upward again

Yankees' Gleyber Torres, left, jumps to celebrate with

Yankees' Gleyber Torres, left, jumps to celebrate with Luke Voit  after Torres hit a two-run home run in the second inning  Sept. 7, 2018, in Seattle. Credit: AP/Ted S. Warren

SEATTLE – Gleyber Torres has put himself right back in the mix for the American League Rookie of the Year award after seemingly taking himself out of it.

Torres,  whose two-run homer put the Yankees on the board in Friday night’s 4-0 victory over the Mariners, has been on a tear of late, entering Saturday night hitting .357 with a 1.030 OPS in his previous 20 games.

Included in that stretch was the period from Aug. 27-Sept. 2 when Torres, 21,  had a .478/.571/.870 slash line,   three homers, 10 RBIs, three runs and five walks, earning him his second AL Player of the Week honor this season. 

All of it came on the heels of a horrid 19-game stretch after he was activated from the disabled list.  Torres --  who missed 15 games from July 4-July 24 with a right hip strain --  hit .145 with a .540 OPS in that span.

“After the DL, I think I tried to do too much,” Torres said. “Everybody threw me everything and I was swinging at everything. Right now I just try to be relaxed, try to make my adjustments and slow the game down.”

Torres entered  Saturday hitting .277 with 23 homers, 68 RBIs and an .855 OPS.

Torres' homer off James Paxton on Friday  night tied him with teammate Miguel Andujar for the AL lead in home runs by rookies. Andujar, who is hitting .296 with an .849 OPS, has emerged as the Rookie of the Year favorite and Shohei Ohtani of the Angels is making a late charge as well.

The Yankees are happy that Torres put the first significant slump of his career behind him.

“It’s really been good to see him the last few weeks, after going through a little bump there where he was struggling at the plate, that he’s found it, he’s having good at-bats,” Aaron Boone said. “Obviously a big one to get us going [Friday night].”

The hit that got the Yankees going Friday put him in elite company. The homer gave Torres his 100th career hit, making him -- at 21 years, 268 days old -- the fourth-youngest Yankee to 100 career hits. The only Yankees to reach 100 hits at an age younger than Torres are Mickey Mantle (20 years, 193 days), Ben Chapman (21 years, 207 days) and Joe DiMaggio (21 years, 230 days).

“I feel really good for that,” Torres said. “I’m proud to be mentioned with DiMaggio and all those guys. I just try to be focused every day.” 

Torres said he did not put too much thought into his slump.

“Hitting is not that easy for sure,” he said. “We face the best pitchers in the world. Baseball is a tough game. Some days are really good, some days bad. I try to stay humble, stay focused and try to do my job. If I’m not hitting, I try to be really good on defense.”

Boone said struggles happen for every player, and the important thing  is how they respond.

“It is really important because it’s part of the maturing, it’s part of the growing, it’s part of becoming a big-leaguer, and in his case, a really good one,” Boone said. “I don’t care who you are, it’s inevitable that you’re going to come up against some adversity during the course of a season, even in the seasons where you’re having All-Star years. Part of being a good player and part of potentially being a great player is being able to deal with that kind of stuff and make adjustments. You have to be able to deal with -- especially when you’re at the highest levels -- success and failure, and that’s part of it.”   

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