While there’s virtually no chance that Gleyber Torres will break camp with the Yankees, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes that the 20-year-old’s advanced play against much older competition is an indicator that he could be in the Majors far sooner than most would’ve expected. Torres hit .270/.354/.421 as a 19-year-old in Class-A Advanced last season, and was named the league MVP in this year’s Arizona Fall League as well. If Chase Headley struggles for the first few months of the 2017 season and Torres thrives in the minors, Olney opines that the Yankees could be tempted to bring him to the Majors this season to play second base, with Starlin Castro shifting to the hot corner. Of course, it’s worth noting that Headley rebounded from a disastrous start to the 2016 season to hit .269/.344/.426 over his final 445 plate appearances. With two years and $26MM remaining on his contract and that strong finish last year, Headley doesn’t seem likely to be on a short leash.
More from the American League East…
- Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith takes a look at Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the work he’s put in thus far in Spring Training to familiarize himself with the Blue Jays’ pitchers. Russell Martin has quickly taken to Saltalamacchia and is helping to advise him in any way possible as the two gear up for the 2017 campaign. The 31-year-old Saltalamacchia says he’s always had great respect for Martin but has seen that admiration grow even more due to Martin’s clubhouse presence, extra video work, extra bullpen sessions and other off-field factors. Both Martin and Saltalamacchia spoke about the importance of a catcher’s performance behind the plate, and Saltalamacchia is putting forth extra work to improve in that regard. One evaluator from another club tells Nicholson-Smith that the knocks on Saltalamacchia’s defense are a bit overstated, pegging him as a 45 defender (on the 20-80 scale). Nicholson-Smith notes that the Jays don’t yet know how much Salty will play in 2017, as they no longer need to rest Martin every fifth day to allow Josh Thole to catch R.A. Dickey. But, about 40 starts behind the plate seems plausible, per Nicholson-Smith.
- Sandy Leon tells Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe that even though he’s been characterized as a lock to make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster, he’s not assuming anything in Spring Training. Leon, who has been optioned to the minors six times and designated for assignment on multiple occasions in his career, tells Abraham, “I don’t know how to think that way,” adding that nothing should be considered guaranteed. The 28-year-old Leon had the opportunity to play for his native Venezuela or his wife’s native Colombia in the World Baseball Classic but passed on both opportunities to better prepare for the 2017 season with Boston. Leon’s breakout season finished with a prolonged slump, though Abraham notes that Leon played 53 games in Winter Ball before the regular season and was working a starter’s workload for the first time in 2016, which may have caused him to wear down. Leon logged just four Winter Ball games this offseason and figures to start for the BoSox on Opening Day in 2017.
- Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy had been projected to begin playing in spring games on March 10, but that may be a bit further delayed, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The 34-year-old Hardy has been sidelined by some back issues but says he’s getting near full strength now. Hardy has yet to field grounders but expects to swing today. He tells Encina that he should have plenty of time to get up to speed and log 40 to 50 at-bats by the end of camp, which would put him in position to be ready for the season opener.