TAMPA, Fla. — The New York Yankees opened training camp intent on seeing if Gleyber Torres, one of baseball’s most prized prospects, could wrest the vacant second-base job from a field of unproven candidates.
“It’s a decision of the team. I can’t control that,” Torres said, insisting that he wasn’t disappointed. “I just have to stay focused and work hard and stay ready for another opportunity.”
Torres, 21, acquired two years ago from the Chicago Cubs, was on track to make his major league debut last season until he tore ligaments in his left, non-throwing elbow in June while sliding into home.
Torres, considered the club’s top prospect, then had Tommy John surgery, preventing him from playing over the winter. Though he said he was at full strength when he reported to spring training on Feb. 19, it became clear he still had some rustiness.
“I’m human,” said Torres, who struck out seven times in 25 at-bats.
The Yankees wanted Torres to get more at bats than he would have in major league camp behind the newly signed Neil Walker, who is expected to make his debut Friday, and the versatile Tyler Wade, who has had a strong camp, batting .333.
General manager Brian Cashman presented manager Aaron Boone with plenty of options at second base. In addition to Torres and Wade, he has signed veterans Jace Peterson and Danny Espinosa, who was released on Monday. Ronald Torreyes, who played a utility role well last season, was also in the competition.
For Torres, the demotion is not necessarily a setback. The Yankees, after all, had all but gifted Gary Sanchez the backup catcher’s job in 2016, but Sanchez batted .091 (2 for 22) during spring training, so he was sent to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and the job instead went to Austin Romine. Sanchez returned to New York for good that August and hit 20 home runs in just 52 games.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.