Earlier this month, the Yankees looked like a team that could use a shortstop.
Now, they’re getting everything they could have wanted out of Gleyber Torres.
Since returning from the COVID IL on Wednesday, Torres is 11-for-18 with a homer, a double, a walk and five strikeouts. And the hits haven’t just been plentiful, they’ve also been timely.
And perhaps just as importantly, the 24-year-old has looked sharper in the field. He’s yet to commit an error since his return, but his defense has improved after Torres’ uncomfortable start to the season.
Torres’ improvements date back longer than just his return from COVID. After drawing criticism for lack of hustle when he didn’t run out a comebacker on April 21, Torres’ numbers are starkly better than through the first three weeks of the regular season.
Although the turnaround coincides with that play, one AL scout who has seen the Yankees since spring training, doesn’t put stock in the connection.
“He’s too good a hitter to stay like he was at that point, when he was one of the most unproductive hitters in the league,’’ the scout said. “It was a matter of time before he was going to start putting up numbers.”
As for the defense, it could be a product of getting a feel for the shift. The Yankees have also used a number of defensive alignments since the beginning of the season, due to injuries to Luke Voit and the addition of Rougned Odor.
Regardless of the reason, Torres is hitting better than he has since 2019 and with the Yankees due to get Giancarlo Stanton back Tuesday after being sidelined by a left quad strain, their lineup should be in decent shape.
Stanton took batting practice on the field Sunday and Aaron Boone said he was “tracking in the right way.”
Stanton’s potential return will impact Aaron Judge, who has started at DH in four of his last eight games in Stanton’s absence.
Judge has said he doesn’t like serving as the DH, but he has a 1.086 OPS in 37 plate appearances as a DH this season and a .945 in 142 plate appearances as a right fielder.
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