Austin Romine turns to Torreyes for help with his Yankees mission

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Presented with a mandate by his new manager this spring, Austin Romine knew he needed wisdom to fulfill the mission. So he turned to the team’s Yoda of hitting well on long rest.

“I talked to Toe,” the Yankees backup catcher said late Sunday afternoon.

That would be Professor Ronald Torreyes — the utility man who contributed a single to the Yankees’ 10-1 mauling of the Royals at Kauffman Stadium — who has a .339/.349/.435 slash line in 22 games and allowed manager Aaron Boone to rest the slumping Didi Gregorius for two games without great concerns.

The student looked pretty good himself Sunday. In addition to catching Sonny Gray for a nice rebound from his previous stinker, Romine singled, doubled and homered, driving home two runs and scoring two. A .220/.263/.314 hitter in 611 plate appearances prior to this year, he stands at .326/.396/.488 in 48 plate appearances this season.

“I’ve been here before. I’ve done it. It’s my third year here being the backup,” Romine said. “I know how to prepare. I know my work I need to do to help produce for the team in the limited time that I get. Stop trying to do what I want to do and do what I have to do at the plate. Whatever the job calls for, get it done.”

From Torreyes, Romine explained, he learned to shorten his swing and go with the pitch more often, an approach that relies less on timing — which is helpful when you play only once or twice a week. As per FanGraphs, Romine entered Sunday’s action with his pull rate having dropped from 26.6 percent to 14.3 percent and his opposite-field rate increased from 35 percent to 53.6 percent. His homer Sunday went to center field and his double to right-center; his single was a broken-bat cue shot to left.

“We kind of challenged him at the start of spring training that, ‘We expect you to do more offensively, because we think you’re capable of more offensively,’” Boone said. “All that does, that allows him to get into more games, frankly. It allows us to have options with Gary [Sanchez] if we want to DH him, or give Gary a day off here. We feel good about it because of Ro and what he brings behind the plate, but if he’s swinging the bat for us, too, I think there are more opportunities for that. And that only helps us.”

“Catching is always going to come first for me. That’s just how it is. That’s how I am. It’s how I got to the big leagues,” Romine said. “But when you can do it with the bat, too, it helps you feel more part of the team.”

Down the road, perhaps Romine can spread the Torreyes gospel to other part-timers.

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