With the return of Gleyber Torres looming, the Yankees have a tough decision to make later in the week.
Torres has been on the injured list with a strained left thumb since August 9. He's expected to rejoin the team on Friday when they head back home from their west coast road trip to face the Baltimore Orioles.
However, the Yankees have been doing just fine without him due to strong contributions from infielders Andrew Velazquez and Tyler Wade.
When asked what the return of Torres will mean for Velazquez, who has manned the shortstop position amicably in his absence, manager Aaron Boone was not ready to set anything in stone.
“We’ll see. … I don’t want to jump ahead of myself. Five days [in baseball] can be a lifetime.”
Torres has had a horrid campaign, slashing .253/.328/.351 with an anemic .679 OPS. He has also yet to find his power stroke, with just six home runs and 42 RBIs. Not to mention, his glove at shortstop has been a liability with -8 defensive runs saved.
Although Torres started to pick things up a bit offensively in his last 30 games before landing on the IL, and was on fire in the month of August, it will be difficult for Boone to remove Velazquez from the lineup as he has been a spark plug during the Yankees’ recent hot stretch.
The Yankees have been waiting all year for Torres to come around, but despite small spurts of success at the plate, the 24-year-old hasn’t been able to turn the corner consistently.
Torres began a rehab assignment with Double-A Somerset on Sunday, where he homered and walked twice. With an off day on Monday, the plan is for Torres to play in back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday, before rejoining the big-league club on Friday.
Upon Torres’ return, the Yankees must decide what to do with Velazquez. Do they want to send him down to the minors to play every day, or are they fine with keeping him in the majors to contribute in a part-time role, similar to Tyler Wade?
If Torres continues to struggle, Boone could potentially go with whoever has the hot hand, which also makes sense during this pivotal portion of the schedule, where the Yankees are making a push for the postseason. But that remains to be seen.
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