Gleyber Torres did not make the Yankees out of spring training.
We’ll say it again, for those in the back: Gleyber Torres, the 21-year-old prodigy who started at second base and batted fourth for the Yankees on Saturday night, began the season in the warm embrace of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, far from the bright lights and the chanting crowds and the mad-dash euphoria of a Yankees-Red Sox series in which the prize is first place in the American League East.
And though this is common enough knowledge, it sometimes bears repeating, particularly after Torres was slotted into the cleanup role for the first time in his major-league career and nary a thought was given to how he would handle it.
Aaron Boone said that means something in terms of Torres’ maturity and the way he’s grown in the team’s eyes since those long days in Tampa.
“I guess when you look it through that, yeah,” it means something, he said. “And considering we’re playing well and the fact that he’s such an important part of the club at this point, I guess is exciting and nice and great that we’ve had another young player really step up in an impactful way for us.”
No single Yankee could have done much to change Saturday night’s game, though. The Red Sox outhit the Yankees 17-2 in an 11-0 victory.
Torres ranked second among all rookies with 14 home runs entering Saturday, and his .284 batting average also was second among rookies with at least 150 at-bats. He’s a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honors and has slotted in seamlessly at second base even though he’s a natural shortstop. But above all, the Yankees don’t particularly feel the need to coddle him, worry about him or unduly protect him in an environment that sometimes has proved to be too much for even experienced veterans.
“He’s got the maturity and the [defensive] clock and the poise of a 10-year veteran,” said Alex Rodriguez, who was on hand Saturday as he gets set to call the Sunday Night Baseball game. A-Rod, though, wasn’t speaking only as an analyst; he’s a special adviser to Brian Cashman and has known Torres since he was a teenager (granted, he still was a teenager 18 months ago).
“I know them very intimately,” he said of Torres and Miguel Andujar. “Watching their maturity and growth, it’s pretty special,” he said. Torres “is a second baseman with a shortstop’s arm. Defensively, he has a rare ability to have a really good understanding of the clock.”
Knowing that Torres can handle the bat and the responsibility of batting fourth gives Boone the flexibility it did Saturday, when the Yankees were facing not only Chris Sale but the second of three lefties. It didn’t do all that much good, but it’s something to consider down the line.
“Especially against lefties, I want to space out my lefties as much as I can,’’ Boone said.