The Yankees benched Gleyber Torres. What if it doesn't work?

NEW YORK — What else was New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone going to do?

Boone benched second baseman Gleyber Torres for Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets at Citi Field in part because of three major mistakes the night before — not running out a ground ball, making an ugly error that led to a run, and failing to put the ball in play with the bases loaded in 9-7 loss in Game 1 of the Subway Series.

But it likely had been building to this. Torres, in his walk year, has been terrible offensively, hitting .215 with seven home runs, 29 RBIs and a 78 OPS+, meaning he’s performed 22 percent below the MLB average. His 12 errors were the most at his position this season, and while talking to reporters late Tuesday night, he sounded dejected. Boone, who met with Torres in his office, could sense his poor performance getting to him.

“It’s been a struggle,” Boone said. “I think he’s feeling that a little bit.”

Boone said Torres could be out of the lineup multiple days as he works with the Yankees’ hitting coaches to correct a swing that made him an All-Star in each of his first two seasons (2018 and 2019) and helped him put up a strong 117 OPS+ last season. On Wednesday, Torres wasn’t in the clubhouse while reporters had access and he didn’t appear on the field for pregame workouts.

But what if benching Torres doesn’t work? What if the mental break doesn’t resurrect Torres, who has also been dealing with nagging groin tightness of late? What if he comes back and continues producing at a below-average rate?

After all, it’s not just the standard numbers that are saying that the Venezuela native isn’t getting it done. His xwOBA was down to .282 vs. the .362 he put up last year. His expected batting average was at .205 vs. .292 in 2023.

The Yankees’ offense outside of Aaron Judge and Juan Soto has been struggling lately, too. The loss last week of Giancarlo Stanton, who suffered a left hamstring strain and could miss a month, took a feared bat out of the lineup. Entering Wednesday, left fielder Alex Verdugo was in a 2-for-31 slide and third baseman DJ LeMahieu was hitting .174 with no extra-base hits since returning from the injured list on May 28. Yankees catchers Jose Trevino and Austin Wells had combined for a 95 wRC+ — the 12th-best among all catching units in MLB.

And the Yankees’ bench has been weak. Center fielder Trent Grisham was hitting just .138 in 81 plate appearances. Jahmai Jones has had just 26 plate appearances all season despite being on the roster since Opening Day. The Yankees started J.D. Davis at cleanup on Wednesday, just his second game back from a multiple-day layoff while in DFA limbo after the terrible Oakland A’s moved on from him.

During an 11-game stretch that started June 13, the Yankees went 3-8 and scored just 4.5 runs per game, down from their season average of 5.01.

If Torres can’t turn it back around, the Yankees could be in lots of trouble while waiting for other players to figure it out.

Hitting coach James Rowson said that Torres’ biggest issue has been the inconsistency of his swing and approach.

“The reps are there,” Rowson said. “The work is there. We’ve just got to keep holding on to our process and keep examining our process. As long as we’re getting after it and there’s a process to get results, we’ve got to stick with it. But we do have to do our due diligence to make sure we’re doing the right things, and make sure the things that we’re doing are ultimately going to get him to where he wants to be.”

Rowson said maybe a break could do “wonders” for Torres.

“We’re human in this game,” Rowson said. “I know every night we come out here and we expect performance, but we are human, and sometimes things do weigh on you, and you do need a break sometimes to just get away from it. Maybe just regroup.”

Boone said that was the plan. He said after he spoke with Torres late Tuesday, he was going to keep him in the lineup Wednesday. But after sleeping on it, he reversed his decision.

He said that Torres jogging out the eighth-inning grounder Tuesday wasn’t the biggest sticking point in putting Torres on the bench.

“It’s one of the things that got my attention, certainly,” Boone said.

Boone called Torres’ break a potential for a “reset.”

“He’s too important and a guy that I’m confident we’ll get going,” Boone said. “But it’s been a grind.”

(Photo of Torres reacting to a strikeout earlier this month: Harry How / Getty Images)

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