Gleyber sure defensive kinks will smooth out

March 11th, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- Though ’ return to full-time duty at shortstop has not gone as seamlessly as some might have expected, the Yankees star believes he will have no issues smoothing out the defensive kinks before Opening Day.

Torres committed his fifth error of the spring in Tuesday’s 4-2 Grapefruit League loss to the Blue Jays, uncorking a high throw on a grounder hit by Teoscar Hernández in the second inning. That came one inning after Torres was unable to corral a ball off Randal Grichuk’s bat, a play that was scored as an infield hit.

“It's a little bit frustrating, because I'm coming every day early, trying to get really good work defensively,” Torres said on Wednesday. “[Then] I go into the game and I make errors. It's tough, but it's the spring. I can make 20 errors and it doesn't matter what I do in the spring. I just try to prepare right now and be great in the season.”

An All-Star in both of his Major League seasons, the 23-year-old Torres played regularly at his natural position last year while the Yankees were waiting on Didi Gregorius to return from Tommy John surgery, appearing in 77 games as a shortstop.

In those 659 2/3 innings, Torres handled 282 chances and made 11 errors, a .961 fielding percentage. He played 65 games and 547 1/3 innings at second base, committing nine errors in 269 chances for a .967 fielding percentage.

“I'm really not worried about it,” manager Aaron Boone said on Tuesday. “The work has been good. I think that'll be something that cleans itself up as we continue to go, as he gets more regular reps.”

Torres was signed as a shortstop by the Cubs and played 321 of his 373 Minor League games at the position. He received a heads-up about his pending return to shortstop this past offseason while vacationing in Mexico with a group that included Gregorius.

The Yankees had clearly stated their priority of signing ace Gerrit Cole, so Gregorius fielded only one phone call from the Bombers before agreeing to a one-year, $14 million pact with the Phillies in December.

“I already knew this was going to happen way before, and nobody believed me,” Gregorius said in January. “So I told Gleyber, ‘Just get ready to play [shortstop] every day. I think things are going to go this way for sure.’”

Recalling the conversation, Torres said, “Didi plays too much, so I didn't believe him 100 percent when he said that.”

Torres said that Boone and infield coach Carlos Mendoza have been supportive, offering words of encouragement as he reclaims his rhythm in the field. And if he feels the need for a pep talk from Gregorius, Torres knows that his friend’s spring home is right across the bay in Clearwater, Fla.

“He's always got the right answers for me,” Torres said. “I feel happy to have my position [back], but it's tough to make errors. I'm just focused on doing my job. I need to prove I can play really well for my pitchers and my team. I just try to be great for my pitchers.”