TAMPA, Fla. — Rookie Gleyber Torres’ time has not come — yet. The Yankees made that official on Tuesday when they sent Torres to minor-league camp after a 2-2 tie against the Tigers at Steinbrenner Field.
Torres, who went 1-for-2 with a walk, was 4-for-25 (.160) in big-league camp as he works his way back from last year’s Tommy John surgery on his left (non-throwing elbow). He will begin the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees signed veteran second baseman Neil Walker on Monday. In his first full day as a Yankee, Walker still had no nameplate above his locker, but he did take extended batting practice. Walker is expected to make his spring training debut on Friday, according to manager Aaron Boone.
Torres had a line single to left in the third inning and a four-pitch walk in the eighth. It was a good day for the 21-year-old — until he got the news from Boone that he was being sent down.
“For me, it’s Gleyber just playing and getting reps and he’ll be fine,” Boone said. “He’s really good. I thought his at-bats were a little bit better today. Had the walk there. Smokes the ball for a base hit. All spring, he’s hit some balls hard that he hasn’t gotten any love for, but he just needs now to continue to play and get the reps. It won’t be too long when it clicks.”
Torres seemed rusty at first in spring training, and the Yankees believed he was trying too hard to impress. Both made sense because he was coming off a nine-month layoff with what seemed to be a legitimate shot at a big-league job. That was before the Yankees traded for Brandon Drury and signed Walker.
“My timing’s not ready yet,” Torres said of coming back from the surgery. “It’s not easy [after] nine months off from the game to come back perfect. I’m human. I’ll stay focused, go wherever they tell me and do my job and wait for another opportunity.”
Boone said he thinks it’s a question of when, not if, Torres will blossom into a top-flight big leaguer. For now, Torres will get at-bats at minor-league spring training and then break camp with Scranton.
Torres said Boone told him “just to stay focused. They told me I need more at-bats and more games and be ready for another opportunity. Now I stay humble, take my time again and we’ll see later.”
Eventually, Torres will be joined at Scranton by third baseman Miguel Andujar, who went 0-for-3 on Tuesday, but made two nifty defensive plays. Andujar’s path to the majors is blocked by Drury.
The 23-year-old’s glove is the big question. On Tuesday, Andujar got an out on a slow roller and also showed range when he grabbed a ball to his extreme left and threw to Torres for a forceout at second. Torres nearly completed the double play with a nice pivot that caught Boone’s attention.
Is it a coincidence that both players had good games a day after Walker signed? Perhaps knowing the road to the Bronx is closed for now has had a positive effect on the two youngsters.
“I’ll say coincidence,” Boone said. “But you never know. Competition a lot of times brings out the best in people.”