DETROIT — With voices outside the organization clamoring for Ronald Torreyes to get more playing time in the wake of slow starts by Miguel Andujar, Neil Walker and Tyler Wade, remember this: Torreyes is more valuable as a utility infielder than a regular.
And there are legitimate questions about how he would hold up with an increase in playing time.
Not many players can sit out several games and deliver at the plate and in the field like the 25-year-old Torreyes, who arrived in a 2016 trade from the Dodgers and has never spent a day outside the big leagues, which is rare for a player in Torreyes’ spot.
“It is really hard and not as easy as he makes it look,’’ infield coach Carlos Mendoza said of Torreyes, who has started five games (three at short, one at third and one at second). “The one thing that impresses is his preparation. If he is in the lineup or not, he prepares as if he is in the lineup every day. You see him take ground balls in the infield, fly balls in the outfield and he is the first one in the cage. It makes him special.’’
Aaron Boone pointed out how Torreyes’ preparation allows him to sit for extended stretches and not be rusty.
“What really impressed me is that first week he sat for six days without seeing the field, without seeing an at-bat and the first day he did all the right things,’’ the manager said of the 5-foot-8, 151-pound Torreyes, who went 1-for-3 and drove in a run in a 7-2 win over the Rays in the sixth game of the season. “I may have had a greater appreciation of him then, but I had a pretty high opinion of him.’’
What’s more likely to happen if Brandon Drury’s migraines continue or come back and Andujar, Walker and Wade don’t get better at the plate is that stud prospect Gleyber Torres will arrive in the big leagues. That will leave Torreyes in the role he fits very well.
According to Mendoza, Torreyes’ impact doesn’t end on the field, where he is above average defensively at three positions and batting .429 (9-for-21) after going 3-for-4 with an RBI in Friday night’s 8-6 win over the Tigers.
“He is a big clubhouse presence,’’ Mendoza said of the smallest Yankee. “He is a huge part of the team because of his clubhouse presence.’’
Since the Tigers were slated to start lefty Francisco Liriano on Saturday, Boone had switch-hitter Aaron Hicks in the leadoff spot. That’s where Hicks is likely to stay if the teams play Sunday since Liriano is schedule to start the first game. Lefty Matthew Boyd is on the list to start the nightcap, but it’s doubtful Boone would choose not to play Brett Gardner twice in the same day.
Tyler Austin, who was in the lineup at first base Saturday, hadn’t heard a scheduled date for his hearing to appeal a five-game suspension he received for charging the mound Wednesday against Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly.
With the Yankees home Monday and with MLB’s offices located on Park Avenue, it’s likely the hearing will be held then, or Tuesday at the latest.
Aaron Judge is riding an 11-game hitting streak, batting .340 with three homers, nine RBIs and has an OPS of 1.036. Asked if Judge could hit .300 because he does strike out a lot (17 this year), his manager didn’t want to limit the right fielder to anything.
“I don’t put a ceiling on Aaron,’’ Boone said. “I knew he was a good player, obviously, [but] he is a great player. And I think between the ears he is really good.’’