New daddy now, Gleyber looking to rebound

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Bending over his hospital crib, Venezuelan Gleyber Torres couldn’t help but gaze in awe at his first child, feeling the weight of being a father for the first time. There were still hours to go before he stood in the batter’s box and stared at a Major League pitcher, a task the Yankees infielder also takes on with increasing responsibility.

Torres and his wife, Elizabeth, welcomed their first child this week, a boy they named Ethan. The proud father donned his cleats and returned to work with two hits and an RBI in the Yankees’ 9-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Tuesday, a story that regardless of the final result will surely tell many times in the future.

“There are many feelings. I feel like my life has changed,” Torres said. “It’s a lot of motivation to get better.”

Although Torres and the Yankees reached a $6.25 million settlement on Tuesday, avoiding going to the arbitration hearing, the infielder’s mind seemed to be elsewhere. Elizabeth gave birth Sunday after 24 hours of labor, and Torres spent the night in the hospital before returning home Monday while his mother went to the clinic.

He was able to sleep that night, hit some fastballs into the alleys during batting practice Monday and signed autographs down the left-field line, but found there was simply no way to push a button and get back into ballplayer mode. By the sixth inning, when Torres was pulled at second base attempting to stretch out an RBI single, he was relieved to be able to return to his locker and be able to contact his family.

“It’s hard. During the game, I was worried about the baby, if everything was okay”, confessed Torres, who quickly knew that the cycle eat-sleep-cry-eat was under control. “I don’t know, he is my first son. I’m really very happy.”

This is a season of new beginnings for Torres, whose extensive résumé at the Major League level always forces a double check on the reference pages that still have him at just 25 years old. Sure, Torres has been on the team long enough for that to be true. But it is. He still has a long way to go, despite a poor 2021 season in which he hit .259/.331/.366 with home runs and 51 RBIs in 127 games, losing his position at shortstop in September.

The Yankees, of course, are eager to see that version of the 2019 Torres again, the one who hit 38 home runs and tormented the Orioles all season. Maybe the Yankees will see that Gleyber again. Maybe fatherhood will reopen that door.

“He is a young man. Hopefully we’re all maturing and growing, no matter where we are,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s a young guy who’s already been through a lot at the Major League level. (He’s been) a couple of All-Star Games, he’s had a ton of success, postseason success, and he’s also been through his rough patches and faced adversity.”

“The key here is to put things in the context of a baseball player, learn from those things and grow from there. If you want to be great in this game, you have to learn to handle adversity along the way. Becoming a father, that’s a monumental moment in your life. It’s a great thing for him and Elizabeth.”

Torres recalled how one of his teammates, Miguel Andújar, used to talk about his bad days at the plate during his first year as a father, remembering that Andújar referred to a no-hitter afternoon as some kind of version of taking away his food. from the mouth to your baby. It was just a saying, probably repeated too many times, but Torres now feels that he understands Andújar better.

What he does on the ground is inextricably tied to providing for his young family, especially Ethan, who has a life ahead of him, and Torres naturally says his intention is to succeed at his job. As Gleyber himself says, any player would like to hit 30 or 40 home runs, of course that would be great. But right now, his goal is to be consistent, convinced that the rest of the things will fall into place.

“When I come to the stadium, I try to be focused, separate those moments and just pay attention for three hours on the game,” Torres said. “Just be attentive.”

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New daddy now, Gleyber looking to rebound