The Yankees are planning to give Gleyber Torres a legitimate crack at their Opening Day roster, and the 20-year-old top prospect has vowed to hit the ground running this spring.
Torres is among the earliest-arriving players at Yankees camp, working out on Monday morning at the George M. Steinbrenner Field complex. Tyler Austin, Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge, Ronald Torreyes, Luis Severino and Tyler Wade were also spotted on site.
"There's a lot of questions and everything. I don't put my mentality in that. It's just, I want to work hard and enjoy every opportunity. I'll play hard and we'll see what happens in the future."
Following Gregorius' injury last March, there were several coaches who lobbied for Torres to begin the year as the Yankees' Opening Day shortstop. General manager Brian Cashman opted to keep Torres in the Minors, saying that he didn't want Torres "drinking from a fire hose in April."
Torres advanced quickly, batting .273/.367/.496 in 32 games at Double-A Trenton before joining Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He played 23 games for the RailRiders, hitting .309/.406/.457 before sustaining a season-ending injury to his non-throwing elbow in June.
Cashman has said that service time considerations will not be a factor in evaluating if Torres should make the big league roster out of camp, but the Yankees would have incentive to have him begin at Triple-A. An extra 16 days in the Minors (not being promoted before April 14) would keep Torres from accumulating a full year of service time in 2018, thus delaying his potential free agency.
Following Monday's workout, Torres said that his left elbow has returned to feeling "100 percent" and that he has not been limited in workouts. Torres even asked the Yankees if he could play winter ball, but he was instructed to focus upon being ready for the spring.
"I'm super excited. Right now I feel pretty good; 100 percent and I'm working hard. Last year I missed a lot of months, I lost almost my season. Now it's time to work and make sure my arm and everything feel right."
A shortstop by trade, the Yankees moved Torres around the diamond last season, giving him 10 starts at second base, 15 starts at third base and 28 starts at shortstop. Had Torres been healthy, Cashman has speculated that the Yanks might not have traded for third baseman Todd Frazier in July.
"I feel pretty good in all positions. I just play hard and help my team, everything the team needs that I can do. … I don't know what will happen right now. Spring is coming and I'll make sure to play pretty good in the spring. We'll see what happens."