Gleyber Torres’ big-league debut will not take place this season. And now, with his development stopped cold, it raises the question about whether it will take place next season.
The Yankees announced Monday afternoon that the 20-year-old Torres, among the top prospects in baseball, will have Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Recovery time for pitchers who undergo Tommy John is typically 12 to 18 months. For position players, it can be as short as six months, but that’s only a general guideline.
“I feel bad for Gleyber, but it’s an injury that thankfully is correctable,” general manager Brian Cashman said by phone. “It’s his non-throwing arm. He’ll have the surgery and be as good as new and return to play in 2018.”
Torres was injured on a play at the plate Saturday while playing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Torres dived head first and was tagged hard on the left elbow, which he grabbed immediately. X-rays taken in Buffalo were negative, and he was diagnosed with a hyperextended elbow.
But team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad examined Torres at New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Monday, when a subsequent MRI showed the UCL tear. Torres is expected to recover in time for 2018 spring training. A surgery date has not been determined.
“Injuries are a part of this demanding sport, so he’ll get it fixed and be ready to go for spring training next year,” Cashman said. “He kept developing at a really rapid pace. A very impressive talent and someone that we have high hopes for. But like anybody else, they’re all susceptible to injury, and when they are, then you hope those injuries aren’t so significant that they can alter their career path. In this particular injury case, thankfully that would not be the case. It’s something that is a very correctable circumstance.”
Twins slugger Miguel Sano suffered the same injury, but to his throwing elbow, in March 2014 and sat out that season. Sano played 80 games as a rookie in 2015, batting .269 with 18 homers.
Torres was acquired from the Cubs at last year’s trade deadline in the Aroldis Chapman deal. He made an immediate impression in spring training, hitting .448/.469/.931 in 19 games. But, not wanting to rush him, the Yankees sent him to minor-league camp, their intent all along, regardless of his performance in Florida.
He played third base, shortstop and second base all season in the minors. After a slow start with Double-A Trenton and an early-season stay on the seven-day disabled list with rotator cuff tendinitis, Torres had a .296/.374/.580 slash line in 21 games after returning, hitting all five of his home runs and driving in 16 runs. He played only 32 games with Trenton before the Yankees decided he was ready for the next stage of his development. He hit .309/.406/.457 with two homers and 16 RBIs in 23 games since his promotion last month to Triple-A.
“He’s shown good plate discipline, not chasing,” said an opposing team’s scout, who watched Torres last week. “Driving the ball to both gaps. Recognizing breaking balls. Defense, for me, has been good at second and short.”
His trajectory had Torres as a September call-up this year at the very least, with a chance of being summoned sooner. But for now, everything is on hold.
Sabathia update. Although CC Sabathia (Grade 2 left hamstring strain) has played catch since getting hurt last week and expressed optimism for a quick return, Cashman tapped the brakes a bit on that.
“It’s typically a four- to six-week process,” Cashman said of Grade 2 strains. “If Christmas comes sooner, then so be it. But I think it’s too early, really, to honestly tell.”