TAMPA, Fla. — It’s not that Gleyber Torres was a pain in the Yankees’ you-know-what this winter.
Far from it.
It’s just that Torres, who missed the last 3 1⁄2 months of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his non-throwing elbow, consistently kept the club on its toes when it came to his rehab.
“It’s kind of like we have a leash on him, trying to hold him back a little bit,” Yankees senior director of player development Kevin Reese said with a smile Monday. “He just wants to go, go, go.”
Exhibit A of that attitude came early in the offseason, when Torres asked to play winter ball. General manager Brian Cashman, not wanting to take any chances with a player considered one of the crown jewels of a loaded farm system, denied the request.
Instead, Torres, 21, rated by many as the top position prospect in the sport, continued the rehab he started not too long after the June surgery, posting periodic updates on social media.
Torres showed up nearly a month ago at the club’s minor-league complex. Cashman has said he’ll have an opportunity to win one of the open starting jobs at second or third. Reese said Torres has “no restrictions” in his work.
“I’m super-excited,” Torres said Monday after working out at Steinbrenner Field. “Right now, I feel really good, 100 percent, and I’m working hard. My arm and everything feels all right.”
A promising minor-league season that likely would have resulted in his big-league debut by season’s end came to a sudden end in Buffalo on June 17 on a play at the plate in which Torres injured his left elbow while playing for Triple-A Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre.
“Every player doesn’t want an injury, but in baseball, [things] happen,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason.”
The Yankees had Torres, a natural shortstop, play second and third last season in addition to short, which will be manned by Didi Gregorius.
“I feel pretty good at all positions,” Torres said. “Whatever the team needs, I can do.”
If he has the kind of spring training he had in 2017, it might be difficult to keep Torres off the Opening Day roster. He had a .448/.469/.931 slash line in 19 exhibition games last year before being sent to the minors.
In this camp, there are no training wheels.
“I’m not thinking about that,” Torres said of landing a starting job. “Just work hard and enjoy the opportunity. Play hard and see what happens in the future.”
Torres wasn’t the only Yankee working out eight days before pitchers and catchers are to report. Among the others: Gregorius, Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Tyler Austin, Tyler Wade, Ronald Torreyes, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery.