The New York Yankees fell to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, dropping their sixth in their last seven tries. The Yankees mustered only one run on the evening, meaning they've scored three runs or fewer in 11 of their 17 contests so far. To make matters worse, the Yankees are now having to address shortstop Gleyber Torres' effort level.
Torres, who entered the game batting .182/.297/.218 (54 OPS+), raised eyebrows in the seventh inning after failing to run hard on an excuse-me swing tapper that settled in between the plate and the mound. Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud had ample time to field the ball and fire to first base, retiring Torres by several steps.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone confirmed during his postgame press conference that he intended to talk to Torres about the play, according to CBS Sports' Mike Axisa. "I think anything you have that kind of situation where the guy has to get off the mound, you better get after it," Boone said. "That's got to be better"
Torres also addressed the media about the play after the game. "It was a check swing and at that moment I really didn't know if it was fair or foul. I didn't see the ball well. I started running late. I feel like I can put a little more effort to run to first base," he said. "Yeah, for sure (I'm frustrated). The situation we are in right now -- and especially at that moment -- I want to hit, to help my team. I just feel like that check swing and hit the ball straight to the pitcher is not the way I want to finish my at-bat.
"I know what I did and I feel like I can put a little more effort on that (ground ball) ... Tomorrow is another day and I just want to (help the team)."
It's anyone's guess as to whether Torres exerting more effort would have changed the play's result. This much seems likely: his stroll wouldn't be a topic of conversation if he or the Yankees as a whole were performing better; struggling teams tend to breed frustration, and that frustration tends to manifest in the form of latching onto plays with questionable optics, such as this one.
The odds are very much in favor of this becoming a story that gets forgotten about within the coming weeks. Torres has been a productive player for his career (even with his 2021 struggles, he's still rocking a career 119 OPS+), and it seems like a matter of time before he and the Yankees climb out of fifth place. Until they do, however, every act (or, in this case, non-act) will be placed under the microscope. He learned that the hard way on Wednesday.