New York Yankees: Little Toe Continues To Pack A Big Punch
Jun 23, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Ronald Torreyes (74) reacts after hitting a walk off RBI single against the Texas Rangers during the tenth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Despite getting inconsistent playing time with the New York Yankees, Ronald Torreyes continued to prove why he’s such a valuable asset.

It’s not every day that a utility man gets a chance to shine, but that’s part of the job. The hardest part is continuously being effective despite inconsistent opportunities. Thankfully for the New York Yankees, Ronald Torreyes fits the bill to perfection.

On Friday night, the 24-year-old was called upon to fill in for third baseman Chase Headley, who has been fighting back spasms over the last few days. Much like he did when shortstop Didi Gregorius went down, Torreyes did just that and more.

“It’s part of my daily routine to prepare with my hitting coach and just get the mindset that at any given moment they’re going to need me and I’ve got to be ready,” Torreyes said through an interpreter. “Once Joe gives me an opportunity to play, I’ve got to be ready to perform.”

And boy was he ready to play in this weekend series opener vs Texas.

In the third inning with New York’s struggling ace Masahiro Tanaka on the hill, the 5-foot-7 infielder turned a dazzling double play on a ground ball by Shin-Soo Choo help end the frame. Then, in the seventh, he made a slick backhand stab on a sharp grounder by Elvis Andrus to rob him of a hit.

All in all, he ultimately helped his starter become one of four Major League pitchers this season with multiple scoreless starts of at least eight innings.

Torreyes wasn’t done there. After Gary Sanchez squeezed one through the middle before Gregorius moved him to third on a single of his own, “The Little Engine That Could” had a shot to cap off an extra-innings victory for New York. Much like he has done all season long, he took full advantage of the opportunity.

Facing Rangers’ closer Matt Bush with two outs, Torreyes slapped his first career walk-off hit, a line-drive single up the middle in front of an announced crowd of 39,602 at Yankee Stadium to cap off a 2-1 victory.

From Opening Day until Didi Gregorius returned from injury, Torreyes went 26-for-93 (.286) with a home run and even led the team in RBI’s for a majority of the commencement of the season. Since June 16, a span in which he is filling in for the injured Chase Headley, the little man is 6-for-16 (.375) in four starts including being the hero on Friday night. 

“He’s a guy that you know is always ready and prepared to play, is going to play good defense, give you good at-bats,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in his postgame press conference. “You can put him in the outfield in an emergency. He’s very, very valuable because he can do so many things.”

That’s a hot commodity these days. Sure, we like to get caught up in having a dominant ace, a potent offense and a shut-down bullpen as fundamental elements of a championship-caliber baseball team, but there are a ton of overlooked aspects that a team needs to get through a grind of a 162 game schedule.

That includes chemistry, clutch hitting, athletic talent and even a young feisty, passionate and durable utility man like Ronald Torreyes.

Sure, the instances in which he is called upon may be low and he may even see just 72 games of action despite being on the roster for the entire season (like last season) but they are nonetheless expected to perform as though they are in the lineup on a daily basis.

Again, it’s a tall task, yet Torreyes has continuously come through. It may be frustrating to see the excitement he brings sit on the bench for a majority of the time, but he fills the shoes of a valuable asset to any team and the fact that he fills them with success will only push the Yankees further as they continue what appears to be a Cinderella season.