It’s been nearly a month since Gleyber Torres last graced the Yankees’ starting lineup. A poor head-first slide into second on a stolen base led to a thumb sprain on August 8th. Shortly afterward, he hit the injured list, and with Gio Urshela on the shelf as well, the Yankees were suddenly forced to rely on a number of unusual left sides of the infield that included Tyler Wade, Rougned Odor, and newcomer Andrew Velazquez.
Torres rehabbed his way back and is now ready to join a team that has played quite well in his absence, outside of the last few games. Despite a brief ninth-inning scare during his final rehab appearance on Thursday, the Yankees activated Gleyber ahead of the upcoming homestand against perhaps his favorite opponent: the Baltimore Orioles. Outfielder Estevan Florial was returned to Triple-A in a corresponding move; Velazquez will thus remain on the 28-man roster.
The Yankees’ outlook has certainly changed since Torres’ swipe-gone-array in Seattle. At the time of his departure, the Yankees were a game and a half behind the Red Sox and A’s in the Wild Card race. Since then, they’ve surged ahead of both clubs and now lead the pack as they begin a stretch of 20 games in 20 days.
Torres will look to keep the positive energy flowing and prove that he’s the player who had an .837 OPS in 22 games after the All-Star break rather than the underachiever who slumped to a .634 OPS in the first half. As always, his glove at shortstop will be closely monitored, but at least he’ll have just about the best of the best receiving his throws at first base in Anthony Rizzo. Aaron Boone noted that Torres will start tonight but be eased back into the regular lineup:
Aaron Boone said Gleyber Torres will be eased back into playing as he returns from the IL. Boone said he may give Torres tomorrow off, and he will not play every day during the 20 games in 20 days.— Justin Shackil (@JustinShackil) September 3, 2021
Velazquez and Wade’s brief hot streaks were nice, but the odds were never on them continuing long-term. (Nothing says that they can’t be late-game defensive replacements for Torres, either.) If the Yankees can get Gleyber’s bat going in a manner similar to his pre-IL play, then that just adds another dangerous threat to the lineup.