The ball skipped toward Gleyber Torres with the promise of being the final out of the top of the 10th inning. He moved toward it, gloved it and took three uneasy steps to his left. Pedro Severino barreled toward first base and Anthony Santander took off for home.
Torres then bounced the throw about four feet in front of Jay Bruce, a natural outfielder playing first base. It tipped off Bruce’s glove, Santander scored the go-ahead run and the Yankees eventually lost Wednesday night’s game to the Orioles in the 11th, 4-3.
And the question popped up again, the one that the Yankees have been able to give no clear answer to: Should Torres really be their everyday shortstop?
The truth is, if they had another option, the answer probably would be no. He’s committed two errors and a handful of other miscues in six games. Despite his hard work — something the Yankees raved about during spring training — the position still can look unnatural for him. He’s at -2 defensive runs saved after going -9 at the position in 40 games last year.
So what’s a club to do? Brian Cashman can try to pull something off before the trade deadline, though that might create more infield questions than answers. They can wait until the offseason, which has a strong free-agent class at the position. Or they can go all-in and hope that something finally clicks.
Aaron Boone, at least, seems to think that last one is possible.
"I think the important thing is to continue to reinforce a lot of the good things, a lot of the progress that he legitimately has made," he said. "Whether it’s from all the reps we saw in spring training, the routine, the work he’s doing, you know, you’ve got to continue to lean on that and believe in that and trust in that, because he has all the capabilities to be able to go out there and do it."
It’s true that Torres is young — although this is his fourth season in the big leagues, he’s only 24 — and it’s also true that he’s shown a willingness to learn. But starts like this can mess with a player’s psyche, especially a young one. Boone knows that’s a risk, too.
"If you have a high-profile issue or something, you’ve got to be able to work past that," he said. "The good thing about Gleyber Torres is that he’s a great player and he’s working hard at his craft and he has all the equipment to get through that and to get past that and come out of this on the other side. There’s going to be trials and bumps along the way for all of us in this game, but the important thing is that he has the confidence to know he has the equipment to get through it."
Maybe, but in the meantime, playing shortstop can be an adventure, and placing an unsure player in the most important infield position can be a recipe for days like Wednesday. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they don’t have many other options.
Notes & quotes: Boone said after the game Wednesday that Aaron Judge (sore left side) potentially could be held out of the game at Tampa Bay on Friday. Judge did not play Wednesday and wasn’t an option off the bench . . . A number of Yankees were able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before the game Wednesday and more were able to get it postgame, thanks to the off day Thursday, which allowed them to rest in the event of side effects. Boone said he is confident the team will reach the 85% vaccine threshold. Teams that have 85% of their "Tier 1" personnel vaccinated — players, coaches and others with dugout access — are allowed to lift some of their COVID restrictions.