ST. PETERSBURG -- The unlikeliest candidate to hit the Yankees' first home run of the season might have been Ronald Torreyes, wearing uniform No. 74 over a slight frame that is listed at 5-foot-8 and, he admits, might be a couple of inches shorter than that.That's why the Yankees were
ST. PETERSBURG -- The unlikeliest candidate to hit the Yankees' first home run of the season might have been Ronald Torreyes, wearing uniform No. 74 over a slight frame that is listed at 5-foot-8 and, he admits, might be a couple of inches shorter than that.
That's why the Yankees were so thrilled by Torreyes' two-run shot off Jake Odorizzi on Tuesday, a third-inning blast that helped New York to a 5-0 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
"It's awesome. Toe is one of those guys that everybody loves to pull for because he works his butt off," Chase Headley said. "He can play 17 different positions, and he never complains. He's just a great teammate. When he has big hits like that, it really fires the team up."
Starting at shortstop in place of the injured Didi Gregorius, Torreyes contributed his second big league homer and some sharp defensive plays, including a play up the middle in the third inning that retired Steven Souza Jr. on a ball that struck pitcher Carsten Sabathia.
His reward was an ice-cold Gatorade shower, administered by his teammates as he conducted a postgame interview on the field.
"I feel super happy about that, just having the guys give me so much support," Torreyes said through an interpreter. "It's really nice, you know? But the feeling is mutual. I really like my teammates as well. I come in here and try to do my work. That's what I like to do. From Day 1, I think that's something that we like to see, that I come here and do my work."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes in the 24-year-old Venezuelan, who batted .258 with a home run and 12 RBIs in 72 games last season after previously spending time in the Reds, Cubs, Astros, Blue Jays, Dodgers and Angels organizations.
"He's a baseball player," Girardi said. "He's going to do things the right way, and he's going to be in the right spot. He's going to run the bases well and he's going to do everything right. Didi is a hard guy to replace, but we feel that Toe is going to do a good job."
Torreyes said that he is grateful for this opportunity, but with Gregorius expected back in early May, he knows that his time as the starting shortstop is limited.
"Didi is a very important part of our team, and we want him back," Torreyes said. "My job is to be ready to play and that's what we focus on, that if they put me in that I'm ready to play. I'm just hoping that Didi comes back soon."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.