Yanks’ Torres, Angels’ Adell off to good spring starts

PHOENIX (AP) — It wasn’t that long ago that New York Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres was one of the game’s young stars.

Now the 25-year-old is trying to re-establish himself after two mediocre offensive seasons.

Back in 2019, Torres made his second All-Star team after batting .278 with 38 homers. That was on the heels of his 2018 season, when he finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting by hitting .271 with 24 homers.

But the middle infielder has regressed at the plate over the past couple seasons, especially with his power numbers, hitting just 12 homers in nearly 600 at-bats since 2019. And he’s struggled with the glove.

The 2022 season might be make-or-break for Torres in his effort to stay a regular in the Yankees’ lineup. He made a good first impression in Grapefruit League play with six hits in his first nine at-bats, including a homer.

Here are a few more players who have been impressive in this abbreviated spring training. Opening day is on April 7, which is just two weeks away.

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Bobby Dalbec, Red Sox, 1B-DH: The 26-year-old had a rough start to the 2021 season but closed with a flourish, hitting 14 homers over the final two months. He’s trying to solidify a spot in the middle of Boston’s batting order and got off to a good start with two homers and seven RBIs in his first five Grapefruit League games.

Jo Adell, Angels, OF: The speedy outfielder was one of the game’s top prospects before a brutal debut in 2020, batting .161 over 124 at-bats and struggling in the field. He was a little better during limited time in 2021 and the Angels are still hopeful that the 22-year-old can still be a star. He hit two homers and a triple in his first five Cactus League games as he tries to carve out a starting role.

Hunter Dozier, Royals, OF-IF: Kansas City could really use a good season for Dozier, who hit 29 doubles, 26 homers and 10 triples in 2019 before a steep drop-off over the past two seasons. He played a little better during the final half of 2021, batting. 261 average and eight homers. The momentum continued during Cactus League play with five hits in his first 11 at-bats.

Keston Hiura, Brewers, 1B-2B: The 25-year-old has struggled over the past two seasons, failing to live up to his rookie season, when he batted .303 with 19 homers in 2019. He led the NL in strikeouts in 2020 and batted just .168 with four homers last season. But he’s off to a good start in the Cactus League this spring, batting .500 with two homers in his first 10 at-bats.

Casey Mize, Tigers, RHP: The No. 1 overall pick in 2018 is coming off a solid year in 2021 when he finished with a 7-9 record and 3.71 ERA. He’s off to a great start through two appearances in the Grapefruit League, pitching five scoreless innings while striking out nine.

Merrill Kelly, Diamondbacks, RHP: The 33-year-old was brilliant in his first Cactus League start, striking out eight of the nine batters he faced over three scoreless innings. Arizona’s trying to bounce back from a 110-loss season and Kelly has been arguably the team’s most consistent pitcher over the past few seasons.

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