May 12, 2019 | 9:01pm
| Updated May 12, 2019 | 9:32pm
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — After watching Gleyber Torres throw the ball from shortstop to first base on Saturday night with less velocity than usual, Aaron Boone left him out of Sunday’s lineup.
“Obviously with him getting hit with a pitch [Friday] night didn’t affect him swinging the bat. Felt like he was a little sore throwing the ball from shortstop,’’ Boone said of Torres, who went 2-for-4 in Saturday’s 7-2 loss to the Rays. “With the grind that shortstop can be I thought today was a good day [to give Torres off].’’
Thairo Estrada started at short for the second time this year and homered to open the ninth following a 43-minute delay due to the Tropicana Field dome lights going out. That ignited a four-run ninth that carried the Yankees to a 7-1 win.
While Boone understands the physical rigors of playing short every day, he praised Torres for his work in the absence of Didi Gregorius and Troy Tulowitzki.
“He has played very well at shortstop for us, but trying to be mindful of the physical demands that position can be,’’ Boone said.
Torres is hitting .286 in 38 games and has at least one hit in 15 of his past 16 games, batting .349 (22-for-63) in that stretch.
Gary Sanchez reported to Tropicana Field on Sunday feeling good after getting clobbered in the head by Guillermo Heredia’s bat during Saturday night’s game. And while Boone toyed with using the catcher as the DH against Blake Snell, the manager decided to leave Sanchez out of the lineup.
“He came in feeling really good, which was encouraging but definitely taking a conservative approach that he took a shot,’’ Boone said. “But with that shot I felt it was best to have him out of there.’’
Sanchez went through tests Saturday night and even if he hadn’t gotten hit on the head he likely wouldn’t have been in the lineup for a day game after a night tilt.
Austin Romine handled Masahiro Tanaka and started a fifth-inning, two-out rally with a double. He added a single and scored a run in the four-run ninth.
At 24-16 the Yankees are a season-high-tying eight games over .500 and a half-length back of the AL East-leading Rays. Since April 19 the Yankees are 16-6 and the Rays are 10-10. With the Rays idle and the
Yankees hosting the Orioles on Monday night, the Yankees can inch past them into first place.
Since last Sept. 24 the Yankees are 5-2 in the past seven games at Tropicana Field after losing five of their previous six games there.
The Yankees claimed minor league infielder Breyvic Valera off waivers from the Giants on Sunday. To make room for Valera on the 40-man roster Greg Bird was transferred to the 60-day IL.
Valera has played in 37 major league games with the Cardinals, Angels and Orioles from 2017 to 2018 and is a career .216 hitter. He will report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.