CLEVELAND – Focusing on Gleyber Torres not running out a check-swing chopper to the mound with the way the Yankees’ offense is performing is like focusing on the deck chair arrangement on the Titanic after it hit an iceberg.
The real issue, and not a cosmetic one, for Torres and rest of the Yankees -- who started a four-game series Thursday night against pitching-rich Cleveland-- is figuring a way out of a horrendous offensive slump the first three-plus weeks of the season that has them buried in the American League standings.
But with the Yankees coming into this series 6-11, their worst start since kicking off 1991 with the same mark, the Torres’ play from Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss to Atlanta garnered far more attention than it should have (for example, it’s easy to envision what would have been a complete non-reaction if Torres was hitting, say, .375 with five homers as opposed to the .186 batting average and .514 OPS, with no homers, he brought into Thursday)
Still, with the fuse lit after yet another lifeless performance from the offense, Aaron Boone said after the loss he planned to talk to the 24-year-old Torres, who himself acknowledged, after offering an excuse of sorts, that he did not hustle as he should have.
"It was a checked swing, and in that moment, really, I didn’t know if it was fair or foul," Torres, who was in the lineup at short Thursday and batting fifth, said late Wednesday night. "I didn’t see the ball really well and I feel like I started running late. But I feel like I can put a little more effort in running to first base."
Boone, as one would have guessed, agreed.
"I think anytime you’ve got that kind of situation . . . you’ve got to get after it," Boone said after the game. "I think initially, the checked swing, he just probably in his mind [thought] foul ball right away and it’s like, ‘Oh, no, I’ve got to get going’ and then you’re a little late. That’s got to be a little bit better, obviously."
Before Thursday night’s game, Boone said he did speak to Torres, in a 4-for-32 slide heading into the contest, in his office before the club left late Wednesday for Cleveland.
"We spoke," Boone said, without elaborating much more on the discussion. "That’s between us. Kind of leave it at that. Obviously, when we’re not playing well, that [play] understandably gets a lot of attention, but the one thing I would say about Gleyber is the care factor is where it needs to be. He, like the rest of our guys, is grinding through a tough stretch and look forward to him breaking out of it."
Wednesday Boone accurately said Torres’ effort needed to be "better," but what ultimately needed improvement for his club post haste was an offense that had performed abominably through the first 17 games. Of all the questions surrounding the team going into spring training, and then into the regular season, almost none revolved around a group that, entering Thursday, ranked last in the AL in runs (58) and last in all of MLB in slugging percentage (.334). Those aren't the only abysmal numbers going into Thursday. The Yankees are also last in the AL in batting average (.205) and OPS (.630).
"There’s no panic," Jordan Montgomery, Friday’s scheduled starter, said Thursday afternoon of the clubhouse. "We’ve got a long season.
We know we’re talented. It’s only a matter of time before we start playing the way we’re capable of."