There’s a reason Gleyber Torres was deemed untouchable.
The Yankees still need starting pitching. That hasn’t changed, no matter how good James Paxton looked Friday night. But while teams dangled prized arms in front of general manager Brian Cashman at the trade deadline, Torres continued to be one of the select few in the Yankees’ no-fly zone. As in, no way is this trade going to fly.
If anyone needed a reminder of how valuable the 22-year-old Torres has become, he provided supplemental evidence in a 4-2 win over the Red Sox.
With the bases loaded and one out in the first inning and the Yankees down by two, Torres mashed Eduardo Rodriguez’s four-seam fastball 384 feet over the leftfield wall. It was the second grand slam of his career, with both coming with Torres playing shortstop. That made him only the second shortstop in major-league history to have multiple grand slams at the age of 22 or younger, according to statistician Katie Sharp. The other was Alex Rodriguez in 1996.
It was all the scoring the Yankees would get Friday, and all the scoring they needed.
“That’s who he’s been since he got here,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s a guy that plays the game with a lot of confidence; understandably so, he’s really talented. I continue to be proud of him for the continued strides he makes in the little parts of the game that he continues to get better at, and he’s a guy you want up in that situation. He likes being up in that spot. He’s able to lock in and focus and obviously, it’s a big swing tonight for us.”
He’s also done it plenty of times before. Torres is 10-for-24 (.417) with the bases loaded and 68-for-194 (.351) with runners in scoring position in his career. Fourteen of his 21 homers have come against AL East opponents. He’s only the third Yankee to put together multiple seasons of at least 20 homers before the age of 23. The other two? Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio.
How has someone with so little major-league experience found himself so at home in the toughest situations?
“Just try to do my job,” he said. “When I saw guys in scoring position, I just try to do my job. Just try to attack early . . . So I try to hit whatever I [can] and help my team. I think when I see the opportunities, to me, I feel really great if I help the team, and that’s always what I try to do.”
He added, “I saw bases loaded. The first thing I never think is, ‘try to hit homers.’ Just put the ball in play. Try to hit it really, really hard. It doesn’t matter if it’s a ground ball or sacrifice, so just try to do my job, and I think I do.”
The pitch Torres hit was way inside and borderline low, not the prime hitting area. But hey, he wanted to hit something, and he wanted to hit it hard. So he did.
For the record, the exit velocity on that homer was 106.3 mph — pretty, pretty hard. It also provided something of a relief for a team that might be smarting a little bit from its inability to do anything at the trade deadline.
“Too many people think we go down, but we don’t go down,” Torres said. He was referring to the two first-inning runs by the Red Sox, but he might as well have been talking about the reaction around the baseball world when the Astros got Zack Greinke at the deadline and the Yankees got nobody.
Said Torres, “We never give up . . .Try to take all the opportunities the team gives up and try to win the games.”