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Gleyber Torres Ready To Help

TAMPA, Fla. — When a baseball player returns from a traumatic injury, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t want to repeat what led to him getting hurt in the first place. A pitcher who took a line drive to the head, for example, might be excused for being a little skittish the next time he gets on the mound.

So when Yankees top prospect Gleyber Torres slid across home plate on Friday afternoon during his team’s game against the Braves, it was as clear a sign as any that he was 100 percent healed—both physically and mentally—from the elbow injury he suffered last May that required season-ending Tommy John surgery.

"When I run, I think about last year and the injury,” Torres admitted. "I don’t want to injure it again, but I just try to slide safe and be careful.”

Now that he’s back in the swing of things, Torres is working to knock off the rust he might have gathered while waiting for his ligament to heal.

"The first at-bat, I didn’t feel comfortable for sure,” Torres said after the game, during which he notched a pair of singles. "But right now I feel better every day and every at-bat. My timing is coming back again and now I’m staying focused and staying humble and playing my game.”

He started this spring with an invitation to major league camp, where he got his feet wet among young, established players like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino, all of whom were in similar situations a few years prior.

"Experience for sure,” Torres said, when asked what he took from his time in major league camp. "Judge, Stanton (talked with me) about how they hit and their approach. It’s something different. The pitching in the big leagues is pretty good, and experience, I think, is the most important part.”

After being sent to the minor league side, Torres has settled into the Yankees’ Triple-A work group in preparation for his return to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when the minor league season begins early next month.

Even with Neil Walker and Brandon Drury in tow, it’s clear Torres will have a spot in New York whenever he shows he’s ready. He was playing the best baseball of his life last season—he hit .287/.383/.480 between Double-A and Triple-A as a 19-year-old—and looked to be on the precipice of the majors before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left arm.

When he gets there, he is likely to work primarily at second base with a little bit of shortstop and third base sprinkled in as well. He’s played just 26 games combined at second and third, but shortstop in New York seems to be locked down by Didi Gregorius for the foreseeable future.

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If Torres had remained healthy and kept performing to expectations, there was a chance he might have found himself not only in the major leagues, but as a part of the team’s postseason roster during its run to within a game of the World Series last fall.

Instead, he was exactly where he was on Friday—at the team’s minor league complex rehabbing his elbow.

“I wanted to help the team in the big leagues for sure,” Torres said. “And the goal is always to win the World Series. I think that’s the goal for everybody on the team, and I hope this year—I don’t know when or where—I can help the team in the big leagues.”

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