Gleyber thrilled to spring into game action

Returning from Tommy John, top prospect logs 5 innings at 2nd in Grapefruit opener

February 23rd, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. -- Having experienced his first game action in eight months, tugged on a black long-sleeved T-shirt emblazoned with the words, "I'M BACK." The wardrobe choice had been a coincidence, the Yankees' top prospect said, but it was appropriate for the milestone.

Returning from season-ending Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, Torres played five innings at second base while notching two hitless at-bats in the Yankees' 3-1 Grapefruit League victory over the Tigers on Friday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

• Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

"I feel happy, excited," said Torres, who is ranked as baseball's fifth-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. "I lost a lot of months last year. This spring, my focus is right now to play hard, stay focused, stay humble, try to help my team win and do my job. I don't think about winning a job or something like that. I just want to try to stay focused, do my job every day and enjoy."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that the second-base competition is "to a degree, wide open," and Torres was immediately thrust into action. Detroit leadoff hitter smacked 's second pitch up the middle, which Torres smothered for an infield hit. Torres said that he had the wind knocked out of him when his chest hit the dirt, but his left elbow was fine.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I know he was excited to get out there today," Boone said. "You get five innings under his belt, an at-bat where he almost got a hit, a guy made a good play against him. Hopefully the first of many for us this season."

As for the shirt? It was celebrating Michael Jordan's return to the Bulls, marked with the date March 18, 1995. Torres, 21, wasn't born until December '96.

Paying tribute

Each Major League team and umpiring crew wore black caps with the maroon "SD" of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., for Friday's spring opener, honoring the victims of a Feb. 14 mass shooting in which 17 people were killed -- 14 students and three staff members. The caps will be autographed and auctioned to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which will benefit the official Stoneman Douglas Victims' Fund.

"It means that we stand with them," said. "I just can't imagine something like that hitting close to home, like it did for all these people. It's an honor for us to wear their logo. It's obviously an honor to put on the pinstripes every day and wear the Yankees logo, but to be involved with something like this and let them know that we're there in a way, I think it means a lot."

Bombers bits

• There was no palpable carryover from the Aug. 24 clash between the Tigers and Yankees in Detroit, which led to suspensions for , , and Alex Wilson.

"I think on some level, baseball players never forget things," Boone said. "But one of our messages will always be that we're out there to win games and compete and turn the page on those kind of things as best we can."

• Non-roster invitee catcher had two hits Friday, including a two-run single to center field as part of a three-run sixth inning.

"I thought we had a lot of patient at-bats from a lot of different guys," Boone said. "I thought we were aggressive swinging at pitches in the strike zone, but also laying off. Overall, pretty pleased offensively."

• The Yankees are counting on a healthy season from Greg Bird, so there was a pang of concern as he closed in on the wall behind first base to snare ' third-inning foul pop.

"Nothing different than the regular season," Bird said. "Just being conscious of the wall. You just catch it."

Up next

The Yankees play their first road game of the spring on Saturday, visiting the Pirates at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla., for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. will start for New York. Position players making the trip include , , , , , and .