Gleyber Torres' injury saves Chase Headley's spot on Yankees

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley basically is the same player as Scott Brosius. Brosius is beloved by Yankees fans because he was the third baseman for three of the club's championship teams at the end of the last century. Meanwhile, Headley has played on Yankee teams that have appeared in one playoff game.

Yankees fans do not seem to hold the same admiration for Headley as they did for Brosius. But that is nothing some postseason magic couldn’t change for Headley.

It appears Headley is safe to possibly have that chance now that the Yankees’ top infield prospect, Gleyber Torres, is out for the rest of the year because he needs Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. It is just a minor bump in the 20-year-old Torres' development -- as minor as Tommy John surgery can be.

The injury is to his non-throwing arm, and it will just slow him down for this season, meaning Gleyber-mania won’t take off on the major league level until perhaps this time next year.

That means Headley continues to have the chance he wants to win a championship and pick up one of those memorable career-changing moments, as Brosius had a few times, or as Aaron Boone famously had when he redeemed his disappointing 2003 season with one swing of the bat to end the American League Championship Series with a walk-off homer against the Boston Red Sox.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman disagreed with the narrative that Torres was being groomed to replace Headley. The Yankees have moved Torres, a natural shortstop, to third and second at times in the minors this season, since Didi Gregorius is blocking Torres at short. Torres, hitting .385 over the past 10 games in Triple-A, was making his case for promotion stronger each day. Yankees officials in and out of uniform told ESPN.com that they thought Torres would be up by the end of July. But Cashman disagreed that Torres was right around the corner.

“Chase Headley is playing third base for us,” Cashman said. “We are not trying to replace Chase Headley.”

During what had turned into Gleyber-mania, Cashman recently went out of his way to say that Tyler Wade -- another top prospect, though not thought of on the same level as Torres -- would be the next infielder brought up, if a need arose.

Cashman has been around New York a long time and knows the best approach is shooting straight, so you have to take his word to heart. However, if Torres had continued to dominate Triple-A pitching and picked up the finer points of third base, it is hard to believe the Yankees would not have reached to Scranton for a jolt of energy over the final months.

The Yankees -- whose minor league depth is among the best in baseball -- promoted Miguel Andujar from Double-A to Triple-A to replace the injured Torres. While anyone at Double-A or Triple-A can be called up if there is an injury or need, Andujar is not on the radar as an upgrade over Headley.

That leaves Headley with a chance to have a special moment or two. Headley, 33, is a likable guy. He was the valedictorian of his high school, a star for the University of Tennessee, and an All-Star with the San Diego Padres. He is very accountable.

His career with the Yankees has been up and down, though his demeanor hasn’t changed. He has maintained he was not thinking about Torres replacing him. He was backed up by Cashman.

We will never know the full truth of what would have happened if Torres hadn’t slid awkwardly into home this past weekend. But this is for certain: Headley, barring an injury of his own, will have the chance to redefine his Yankee career.

Brosius had a .744 OPS in his career, while Headley's is .742. Brosius had the good luck of playing with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera in their prime. Headley has Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez perhaps leading the way. Third base looks like Headley’s for good in 2017. Now he just needs a little magic.