Hard work paying off for Yankees' Torreyes

April 14th, 2016
"I've been very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to play," said Ronald Torreyes.

TORONTO -- Ronald Torreyes' career with the Yankees opened with an innocent fudging of the facts, which we had might as well clear up now. Officially listed at 5-foot-10 on the roster, the diminutive infielder admits that assessment was somewhat generous.

"Yeah, I don't think it's correct," Torreyes said, with a laugh. "I think it's more around 5-foot-8. I'm not 5-foot-10."

Torreyes, who went 2-for-3 with a run scored in the Yankees' 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday, wasn't about to make waves to adjust the paperwork this spring as he sensed a chance to make the club's Opening Day roster.

In a clubhouse populated by legitimate power threats and superstar contracts, the relatively unknown 23-year-old Venezuelan's ability to consistently make contact earned the attention of manager Joe Girardi and the coaching staff. He has rewarded the Yankees with six hits in his first nine at-bats (.667) this season.

"I've been very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to play," Torreyes said. "Once I'm on the field, I can show that I can play. Every time I get the opportunity, I just play."

Exactly where he would be playing in 2016 was a mystery. Torreyes has been part of five different organizations in the last 12 months (Astros, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Yankees, Angels), having been initially acquired by New York in a Jan. 12 trade with the Dodgers, along with pitcher Tyler Olson, for infielder Rob Segedin.

The Angels claimed Torreyes on waivers on Jan. 25, but the Bombers returned the favor on Feb. 1, adding Torreyes to their 40-man roster and bringing him to camp. He outlasted both Rob Refsnyder and Pete Kozma to serve as the utility infielder; though he committed a throwing error at shortstop in Wednesday's loss, the Yankees have been generally pleased with his play.

It has not been an easy path for Torreyes. His father, Alcide, was the driving force behind the youngster's development in Venezuela, pushing his teenage son to hit more, run more, and out-hustle the competition at many of the academies run by pro organizations in that country.

Though the rejections were numerous, as scouts found it difficult to envision his slight frame belonging on a pro diamond, Torreyes eventually persuaded the Reds to give him a chance. He has been plugging away since, and said there is no great secret to his success.

"Without question, hard work," Torreyes said. "I work very hard here with my hitting coaches. During the offseason, I work with my dad. My dad is sort of like my hitting coach. We just hit and hit, all winter long."