New York Yankees: Torres wants to forget last season, Kluber is where he needs to be and more

William Parlee
New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres
USA Today

The New York Yankee’s shortstop Gleyber Torres is looking to have as many home runs as in 2019 or more. Torres led the Yankees with 38 home runs in 2019, but 2020 was disappointing for the young shortstop. He hit only three long balls and had an average of just .243, down more than 30 points from the previous season. During this offseason manager, Aaron Boone said Torres was not in shape he should be at the beginning of the season. His performance was lacking in the first part of the season, but he showed improvement when he came back from the IL in his last 18 games.

Now with spring training in full swing, Torres is healthy, strong, and ready to go.

“I still feel [I have] power,’’ Torres said. “I don’t know why I didn’t hit too many homers last year. I’m trying to get stronger and [have more] agility. We’ll see this year if I have the same or more homers than ’19.”

In 2020 Torres struggled mightily both as a shortstop and behind the plate, but he has worked extensively with bench coach Carlos Mendoza on his play at short.

“Look, everybody knows how difficult last year was, especially when we got shut down,’’ said Mendoza, who has worked extensively with Torres at short. “It was so hard to get ready and we didn’t know when we were coming back. Brian made his comments and [Torres] kept saying he felt fine. … This year, he looks really good.”

When he was asked about Fernando Tatis Jr.’s $340 million contract with the San Diego Padres, and if it was a motivation for him, he said, of course, everyone wants to make a lot of money.

Corey Kluber is feeling fine and is in a good place

Corey Kluber is healthy and has taken to the mound a few times in the 2021 spring training. Kluber had some bad luck being hit by a comebacker in 2019 and suffering a shoulder injury in the first inning he pitched for the Texas Rangers. But that is all behind him now that he is with the New York Yankees, and he is performing well in spring training.

Kluber is a two-time Cy Young Award winner and, when healthy, is an ace capable starter for any team. Friday afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, the right-hander pitched two innings to Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, and Luke Voit. Manager Boone, who observed the pitcher tossing, said:

“I feel really good about his progress,” Boone said. “I thought he finished better than he started, and I think the stuff is overall pretty crisp. I’m encouraged where he’s at. We’re sitting here in February, and we’ve got essentially a stud pitcher ramping up for a season.”

Kluber said there is no reason to worry; I am right where I want to be for this time of the season.

“My goal is to hit the ground running on Opening Day,” Kluber said. “It’s no secret that I probably haven’t been at my best early on in the season previously in my career; not that I want to be OK with that. I’m always trying to tweak what I need to feel like it will have been better prepared from the get-go. Every game is important.”

Jameson Taillon will be innings vigilant

The newly added pitcher for the New York Yankees is Jameson Taillon, who was traded for from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is coming back from his second Tommy John surgery and is feeling fine, but he talked about pitching 120 to 150 innings as a goal this season. He said that as spring training progresses, he is open to talking about that.

“We haven’t talked about any given number, but we have talked about communicating and staying vigilant,” Taillon said. “I’m ready to be honest and open about that. I’m sure as Spring Training gets on, we’ll communicate about some sort of rough idea that we have. Right now, I’m feeling really good.”

What to expect this Sunday

This Sunday will be the first exhibition game of spring training. It will be against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Yankees training camp in St. Petersburg, Florida, this Sunday at 1:05 pm. Michael King will be projected to start for the Yankees. Manager Aaron Boone has said it will be a seven-inning affair and indicated the first few games would also be limited to seven innings.

The New York Yankees game will be televised on the YES Network, as will most of the Yankees’ home games in spring training. It’s a shorter Spring Training with modified rules. Specifically, the Yanks will only play the Blue Jays, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, and Tigers. This is for COVID-19 travel-related reasons excluding Florida east coast games. 14 games will be at home and 14 away. The YES Network will carry 14 of those games. MLB Network will carry the opening game on Sunday as well as 13 others. Fox and NBC will carry a few of the games.