The Yankees opened training camp intent on seeing if Gleyber Torres, one of baseball’s most prized prospects, could wrest the vacant second-base job from a field of unproven candidates.
A little more than three weeks after Torres arrived, the answer was apparent: Torres, batting just .160, was sent to Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday.
“It’s a decision of the team. I can’t control that,” Torres said, insisting that he wasn’t disappointed. “I just have to stay focused and work hard and stay ready for another opportunity.”
Torres, 21, acquired two years ago from the Chicago Cubs, was on track to make his major league debut last season until he tore ligaments in his left, non-throwing elbow in June while sliding into home.
Torres, considered the club’s top prospect, then had Tommy John surgery, preventing him from playing over the winter. Though he said he was at full strength when he reported to spring training on Feb. 19, it became clear he still had some rustiness.
Regardless, he said this year’s spring training was different because of the opportunity to be around and learn from the Mets’ major league players and coaches.
I’m human,” said Torres, who struck out seven times in 25 at-bats.
The Yankees wanted Torres to get more at bats than he would have in major league camp behind the newly signed Neil Walker, who is expected to make his debut Friday, and the versatile Tyler Wade, who has had a strong camp, batting .333.
General Manager Brian Cashman presented Manager Aaron Boone with plenty of options at second base. In addition to Torres and Wade, he has signed veterans Jace Peterson and Danny Espinosa, who was released on Monday. Ronald Torreyes, who played a utility role well last season, was also in the competition.
Earlier in spring training, Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson praised Tebow’s work ethic, power, and his positive influence on teammates and minor league baseball as a whole. Alderson even admitted that the Tebow experiment had changed.
For Torres, the demotion is not necessarily a setback. The Yankees, after all, had all but gifted Gary Sanchez the backup catcher’s job in 2016, but Sanchez batted .091 (2 for 22) during spring training, so he was sent to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and the job instead went to Austin Romine. Sanchez returned to New York for good that August and clubbed 20 home runs in just 52 games.
Manager Aaron Boone said he expected to name an opening day starter within a week. The Yankees have plenty of candidates: C.C. Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray have previously started on opening day, and Luis Severino finished third in the Cy Young voting last season. “It’s not so obvious given our team,” Boone said. “We’re a little more interchangeable than most clubs.”