Gleyber Torres’ motivation is everywhere: Brian Cashman dig, $340 million tease

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TAMPA — Gleyber Torres didn’t exactly disagree with general manager Brian Cashman’s notion the shortstop “wasn’t in the best shape” when the second spring training began last summer.

Perhaps no Yankee other than Gary Sanchez would like to put 2020 behind them more than Gleyber Torres.

“Last year, I [couldn’t] prepare myself, really, because everything was closed,’’ Torres said Friday when asked about Cashman’s comments. “Everybody knows what happened with COVID.” 

The 24-year-old added he hasn’t spoken to Cashman about what he said in December, but the Yankees have praised Torres so far this spring about his offseason work. 

The turnaround began after Torres returned from a left hamstring strain in September.

In 24 games before the injury, Torres had three extra base hits and a .636 OPS in 91 plate appearances. After returning September 5, Torres was far more productive, with eight extra base hits and an .842 OPS in 69 plate appearances over 18 games and continued that success into the playoffs.

“Before my injury, I didn’t feel right,’’ Torres said. “I came back after the injury feeling really good. I lost weight and played a little bit better.”

And following the Yankees’ loss to the Rays in the ALDS, Torres quickly returned to Tampa to work more on his defense.

“Not because of what [Cashman] said,’’ Torres said. “I just want my body to feel well again and get better and better.”

Torres and the Yankees will find out soon enough if it paid off and if Torres returns to being one of the best young players in the game, as he was in 2019.

That season, Torres hit 38 homers. A year ago, albeit in a much shorter season, that number dropped to three.

Even Torres was at a loss to explain the drastic decrease.

“I don’t know,’’ Torres said of the slip. “[2019] was great. I didn’t get any injuries. We only had 60 games last year and I got an injury. I didn’t feel too comfortable when I went to the plate. We had a short spring and season and I tried to fix too many things.”

He’s hopeful the homer numbers bounce back.

“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.”

The Yankees will take solid defense and an elite bat, regardless of the homers as Torres looks to reinsert himself in the conversation about the best young players in the sport.

He noticed the massive 14-year, $340 million extension Fernando Tatis Jr. signed with San Diego.

“We know he’s a great player,’’ Torres said of the 22-year-old. “I’m super happy for him.”

Asked if he would use it as inspiration, Torres said, “For sure, who doesn’t want to get the same money? It’s motivation for everybody.”

He added he and the Yankees haven’t discussed a new deal.

“I’m just continuing to play like I play and try to get better,’’ Torres said. “And we’ll see in the future if I get an opportunity to get a big contract.”

That effort starts this spring.

“The past is the past,’’ Torres said. “I’m focused on right now. Last year was tough all around. We want to forget that.’’

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