Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Luis Torrens and a Cautionary Tale for Greg Bird to Follow

The New York Yankees were stunned to find out during spring training this season that Greg Bird would miss the entire 2016 campaign with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Many thought the future was now for both the Yankees and for Bird as Mark Teixeira strolled into what could be his final season in the Bronx but the injury brings up more questions now than anyone has answers for. How will Bird’s shoulder react to playing first base? Can he once again drive the ball for power at the Major League level? Will he be ready in spring training 2017 or will the Yankees have to find a one-year stop gap to give Bird ample recovery time? Again more questions than answers but the Yankees have a cautionary tale for Bird to follow in fellow prospect and catcher, Luis Torrens.

Torrens missed the entire 2015 season with a similar torn labrum in his shoulder and has made his comeback to professional baseball this year. Torrens had the luxury of being assigned to short-season Staten Island in the New York-Penn League so he had a little more recovery and rehab time but he doesn’t look like he has needed it much. Torrens hit .311 and had a .360 on base percentage with the Staten Island Yankees before earning the promotion back to Charleston with the Riverdogs where, albeit in a small sample size, he has gotten even better.

This is both an encouraging sign for the Yankees as Torrens was once thought of as a better prospect and catcher than Gary Sanchez and for Bird who has a recent example to model his rehab and such by. Torrens seems better than ever and there is no reason, assuming all the stars align, that Bird can’t be either. It’s a cautionary tale though as Torrens has been back in Charleston for basically a week and back playing professional baseball for a couple a months now since the surgery.

It is worth mentioning that Torrens, while it may not seem like much to most, has to throw the ball back to the pitcher a good 150-200 times a day including warm up pitches, actual in-game pitches, bullpen sessions etc. Torrens also has to hit where Bird may really throw the ball maybe 50-100 times in a game and rarely at full strength. Torrens had a similar surgery and is holding up with all the extra wear-and-tear and you have to think Bird will be fine too. Every body is different, every injury is different and every surgery is different but Bird is young, athletic and he’s already working out and rehabbing the shoulder so he should be just fine in 2017. Fingers crossed.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)