Yankees' Gleyber Torres gestures after hitting a home run against...

Yankees' Gleyber Torres gestures after hitting a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, May 27, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Credit: AP/Scott Audette

Back in spring training, while enumerating the many reasons why he felt this year could be a "special" one for the Yankees, Aaron Boone more than a few times referenced players he expected "bounce back" seasons from.

Near the head of that list was Gleyber Torres (DJ LeMahieu, of course, received quite a few mentions in that department as well).

Torres, as no one following the Yankees regularly needs reminding, was coming off a miserable 2021. It was a season that not only saw Torres hit .259 with nine homers and a .697 OPS in 127 games but also, because of poor performance, saw him lose his job at shortstop, the Yankees shifting him back to second base toward the season's end.

The results have been, for the most part, positive — both in the field and at the plate.

"I'm excited where GT is, I really am," Boone said Tuesday before his team started a three-game series against the Angels at the Stadium.

Torres, who started at second Tuesday night and hit cleanup, came into the series hitting just .243 but with nine homers and a .749 OPS. The 25-year-old, already with as many homers as he had all of last season, came into Tuesday having hit four homers in his previous six games. In Sunday's loss at the Rays, Torres recorded a season-high three hits, one of them a second-inning homer that gave the Yankees the lead (of his nine homers, five have given his team the lead).

"Obviously, he's been hitting the ball out of the ballpark, especially a handful of those lately, which has gotten his [home run] number up to nine, which is a pretty good number to have [before June]," Boone said. "And as I've said all along, I felt like even at the start [of the season], when there were a few of those days in there where he hadn't hit for several days and those were the questions. And I really felt like with Gleyber, the at-bats and the quality of contact were lining up, even when he wasn't getting results, with a guy that looked like he was in a really good place offensively. And I think, based on where we're at in the season right now, that's what we're seeing. We're seeing a guy that's off to a good start who obviously has gotten a lot of big hits for us."

Torres has also been more selective at the plate. The infielder, after striking out 104 times in 459 at-bats last season, has struck out 30 times in 152 at-bats so far this season [going into Tuesday].

But it is defensively where Torres has shown the biggest difference. After leading the Yankees with 19 errors in 2021 (the vast majority of them coming at short), Torres has committed just two errors this season. Errors, of course, aren't the end-all-be-all when it comes to evaluating a fielder but Torres clearly has looked more comfortable at second, the spot he earned All-Star bids in 2018 and 2019, than he did at short.

“I’ve always liked him better at second,” one longtime National League talent evaluator, who has watched Torres since his early minor-league days with the Cubs, said recently. “I think his physical frame has changed significantly since he was a younger Cubs prospect. The footwork, rhythm, distance, throws, ground ball angles, etc. are a huge factor at shortstop. The defensive game can really affect the offensive side of your game if you get frustrated mentally.”

The scout, a former player, added: “I’m not saying second is the easiest to play, but the left side of the infield, especially up here [the majors], is much more difficult to play.”

The Yankees, who behind the scenes last season were frustrated at times with Torres, could not be happier to this point of this season.

"I think he's played really well at second base," Boone said. "The play he made the other day, on Sunday [in St. Petersburg, Fla. against the Rays], with the infield and moving to his left . . . [that's] a pretty special play. So it's just really good to see him in the mental frame of mind that he's in where he, I think, has a lot of confidence when he walks in here each and every day. He's preparing really well, and it's really good to see him get some results." 

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