That’s why their Opening Day performance was so upsetting. It reinforced every fan’s deepest concerns about this team and kicked off the 2021 season with those vibes. We are NOT here for this.
But now that some of it requires discussion, perhaps one unsettling aspect of Thursday’s loss to the Toronto Blue Jays failed to turn enough heads.
And that was Gleyber Torres’ defense at shortstop.
Though neither poor play Torres made was ruled an error, that doesn’t mean his defensive performance in the first game of a season in which he needs to prove he’s the starting shortstop of the future wasn’t a significant letdown.
Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt before we get into this, too. Neither of these plays were “easy.” But then again, neither is playing shortstop.
After one game, should Yankees fans be concerned about Gleyber Torres’ defense?
The first was a back-handed attempt in the hole on a sharp grounder. Certainly not a must-make play, but also certainly not one in which the ball misses your glove entirely and shoots into left field, which is exactly what happened. Fans saw plenty of those last year, and for now, we’re right where we left off.
The second was much more egregious, and brings up the question about Torres’ instincts on defense. In the top of the ninth, Teoscar Hernandez hit a grounder toward the middle off Darren O’Day to lead things off. Instead of charging it on an angle, Torres continued to shift towards his left deeper on the infield. The result? The ball took a bad hop because he allowed it to continue to roll, he bobbled it, and then made a bad throw to first base. “Infield single.”
“Just not aggressive enough,” manager Aaron Boone told reporters after the game of Torres on that play. “I thought he laid back on the ball a little bit and then probably with Hernandez getting down the line (Torres) needed to take a little bit better angle and (have) a little more urgency to get that.”
If it were Nelson Cruz in the batter’s box, perhaps this would get a pass. But Hernandez can run, so it’s clear either Gleyber simply made a bad play or wasn’t entirely pay attention to who would be running down the line.
Again, fans were told this season would be “different.” Many were hoping improved defense on Torres’ end would be part of that narrative. It could very well still be, but there was no indication of that on Opening Day, and once again, the 24-year-old will be attempting to dig himself out of a hole as he faces mounting pressure to prove his ability at the shortstop position.