Gleyber Torres has become inseparable from Yankees ‘brother’ DJ LeMahieu

TAMPA — It didn’t come easily at first for Gleyber Torres, but with time and persistence, the Yankees shortstop finally succeeded.

He got DJ LeMahieu to open up.

“The first year, in ’19, DJ was a man of few words,” Torres said Monday. “He didn’t talk too much, he was super quiet. I feel like he was my old brother.”

But during both spring trainings last year and the quarantine period in between, Torres began getting to know his stoic double-play partner even better. They talked more this offseason, with Torres telling LeMahieu how he wanted to get better defensively. Then entering camp this year, he told LeMahieu he was going to pick his brain even more and asked manager Aaron Boone and bench coach Carlos Mendoza to put him together with LeMahieu for every game and workout, wanting to be around the player known as The Machine as much as possible.

In addition to their conversations about baseball, Torres wanted to watch how the three-time Gold Glove winner and two-time batting champ went about his work on a daily basis, hoping to copy some things that would help him as he tries to get both his bat and glove back on track this season.

“I’m just trying to watch a lot of DJ’s routine, everything he does in the cage or practice or also during the game,” Torres said. “I just try to learn and everything I learn, try to put in my game. Try to get better and better every day.”

Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu are joined at the hip
Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu
Getty Images (2)

The veteran LeMahieu said when he was still establishing himself in the big leagues with the Rockies, he learned from the likes of Troy Tulowitzki (his double-play partner), Todd Helton, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer. He did everything they did, as Torres is now doing with LeMahieu.

“I feel like Gleyber is kind of at that stage where he doesn’t need me by any means, but it always helps to have someone to bounce stuff off of,” LeMahieu said. “I think that’s kind of what he’s looking for. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him and working with him.

“It’s a dangerous combo when he’s focused like he is and as talented as he is.”

In the shortened season last year, Torres hit just .243 with three home runs and a 102 OPS-plus (100 being the league average), with GM Brian Cashman later saying he wasn’t in the “best of shape” to start the season. Torres also struggled defensively, in his first year as the Yankees’ full-time shortstop after transitioning from second base, committing nine errors in 40 games.

This spring, the 24-year-old Torres had looked solid defensively, going without an error in his first 12 games. He was also batting 8-for-30 with two home runs entering Monday’s game against the Phillies.

Not able to be quantified, though, is the value of Torres shadowing LeMahieu in camp.

“They’ve been absolutely joined at the hip,” Boone said. “They’ve played pretty much every single day together. If there’s been a trip, they’ve both been on it together and that’s by design. Part of that is Gleyber’s driving that. … To have double-play partners that are really joined at the hip, and obviously DJ’s kind of a model of professionalism, their closeness continuing to develop and grow has been really heartening to see. I can’t wait to see what he goes out and does this year.”

Torres laughed Monday when he pointed out that sometimes he pulls back on all the questions for LeMahieu, “because maybe he feels tired about myself.” But Torres has cracked LeMahieu and he plans on continuing to tap into that source of experience as much as possible.

“We have the best relationship right now,” Torres said. “When DJ and myself are talking about baseball, it’s amazing. I just try to learn everything he knows about the league … ask him what he sees or what he feels. That is a way I feel like I can improve my defense and get better every day.”

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