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Yankees tell why Gleyber Torres now has warning track power

The Yankees already were down three runs Friday night in the second inning of their first game since they lost five more players to COVID. This was a terrible start to the second half as well as a weekend series against the first-place Red Sox that won’t make but might break their going-nowhere season.

That’s when Gary Sanchez started a rally by working a leadoff walk in the Yankees second facing Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, bringing up Gleyber Torres with an opportunity to keep it going.

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The Yankees need their few stars that aren’t on the IL to come up huge while Aaron Judge and others are sidelined, and Torres promptly stepped in and powered a high flyball to deep right on a first-pitch fastball that nearly split the plate. With the baseball carrying exceptionally well on this muggy 92-degree night at Yankee Stadium, Red Sox right fielder Hunter Renfroe glided back and back and back until he was up against the wall, and then …

This was just a long out that fell short of clearing the short porch by a foot.

Once again, Torres flashed warning track power during his latest hitless night, an 0-for-4 showing with a strikeout in what became a 4-0 Yankees loss that left them nine games out of first and an embarrassing 0-7 against Boston.

Torres had a lot of company shooting blanks on a night in which the Yankees were shut out on three hits, but the shortstop’s power drought continues to be one of the storylines for an underperforming 46-44 ballclub.

In 78 games, Torres has six homers after hitting just three in 42 games last year.

Those numbers are baffling because Torres was a homer machine during his first two big-league seasons, hitting 24 in 123 games as a rookie in 2018 and then 38 in 144 games in 2019.

This year, Torres began the season with no homers in his first 31 games and he’s now gone 28 without going deep.

The Yankees know what the problem is, but have yet to fix it.

“Well, I’ll go back to some mechanical things within his hips that I think are a factor,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He probably hasn’t completely unlocked or mastered or gotten back to where he’s in that good, strong powerful position consistently.”

At this point, Torres would settle for just getting a few more hits of any kind, as he’s been mired in a five-week slump that’s plummeted his average from .279 to .237. Since June 12, he’s batting just .140 with six RBI over his last 24 games.

Boone is confident the hits will start coming in bunches soon.

He also expects Torres eventually will hit for power again.

“I think we’ve seen some glimpses of it,” Boone said. “He just missed the ball that he hit to the fence (on Friday night). I thought he had some really good, aggressive powerful passes (last weekend) in Houston. Hopefully the power follows, but more importantly right now I just want him to have really good at bats and be in a position to help us win ballgames.”

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Randy Miller may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @RandyJMiller. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.

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