Ronald Torreyes on running in rivers, overcoming adversity

The Post’s Steve Serby takes some time to talk with Ronald Torreyes, the Yankees’ ultimate utility man:

Q: Why do fans seem to have an affection for you?
A: I would say that they appreciate the way I play baseball. I’m a guy that plays all kinds of different positions, and at the same time, I like to play with joy, and I like to be competitive at the same time, so I guess they can see that and they can relate somehow to me. Also maybe my stature. They see me as a regular human being, someone that goes out there and gives 100 percent and tries to play as big as anybody else.

Q: What is the funniest thing a teammate has said to you?
A: (Smile) I think the funniest has to be, Didi [Gregorius] a couple of days ago, he was for some reason, trying to give me a new nickname, and was trying to call me Popeye. In a way, it creates a sense of family when guys are using a nickname for me.

Q: Do you know who Popeye is?
A: Yes.

Q: Do you eat spinach?
A: (Smile) No.

Q: Did you ever think about becoming a jockey?’
A: The guys here and there will joke around and tell me, “Hey, you have the opportunity to become a jockey if you wanted to,” (smile), but in all seriousness no.

Q: How and why have you been able to overcome your size?
A: I would say the main reason is hard work, and the routine that I put together over the years have brought me to this point where I find myself today. Because without the hard work, I don’t think I would be here today.

Q: Was part of that hard work running in rivers (in Venezuela)?
A: That was definitely part of it. Me and my dad, we used to go out to rivers where the water would reach just up to the knee, and we would run up and down, and it helped me develop speed, because I wasn’t as fast when I was younger. But it helped me out to become faster and be more agile when playing defense. We’d run many, many hills. We’d run on sand.

Q: Do you enjoy watching other smaller athletes or entertainers?
A: There are really good ballplayers out there, like Jose Altuve and (Alexi) Amarista. Those guys kind of opened the door for me. And today, I’m here and playing and hopefully opening some doors for some future guys that might not be six-feet tall, but really have the passion to play this sport and that can be productive players in the future.

Omar VizquelAP

Q: What did you like about Omar Vizquel?
A: He would charge plays and [would] make them barehanded, so I used to like that a lot. And to me, it gave me the motivation to play baseball and to try to be like him and at that time, it was a dream of mine to make it up here to the big leagues.

Q: Is shortstop your favorite position, and how do you like bouncing around at second base and third base as well?
A: They all feel the same. The routine I have, although they’re different, allows me to see them the same way. I enjoy playing a little bit of third base or shortstop or second base.

Q: During the brawl in Detroit, did you protect Aaron Judge?
A: (Smile) I definitely gave it a shot, but there’s a lot going on, trying to grab whoever you can to try to help the situation come down.

Q: Who did you grab? Or who grabbed you?
A: Well actually I tried grabbing Judge … and José Iglesias on the other team.

Q: What drives you?
A: Definitely my family, my mom and dad and my wife, my son (Moises) he’s four years old now, and when I come to the ballpark every day, one of the reasons why I show up every day is because I want to make sure that my son has a good education tomorrow, and I can somehow set a path for him to follow, and he hopefully he follows my footsteps and is a baseball player someday.

Q: Is Moises taller than you?
A: (Laugh) Well he’s only four years old, and I got to say he’s pretty tall to be four years old. His grandparents on his mother’ side are pretty tall actually. So there’s a good chance that he might end up being taller than me at some point.

Q: As big as Judge maybe?
A: (Smile) Not like him, but probably a little taller than me.

Q: Has your father ever seen you play here in the United States?
A: No, only on TV.

Q: Will he come over?
A: I don’t know. He’s afraid of planes, so I don’t know.

Q: Has fatherhood changed your life?
A: I had my kid when I was really young. That’s why he’s such a big motivation to me, because I want to make sure that, like I said before, he has the opportunity to a good education, and he has the opportunity to be whatever he wants to be in the future. It’s such a big motivation because I want to make sure that I do everything right by him.

Ronald TorreyesPaul J. Bereswill

Q: What do you know about Yankees tradition?
A: I definitely know about Babe Ruth and all the home runs he hit for this team. I know about Derek Jeter and how good of a player he was, and for how long he played shortstop. And, the fact that he played his entire career for this organization is something that motivates me to even keep playing even harder every day, because when you have an opportunity to play for a team your whole career, that’s very special. Definitely something I look to and would like to.

Q: Did you ever imagine as a boy being able to play for the New York Yankees?
A: No, I never thought about it. The Yankees were my favorite team growing up. When I was young, I never thought I would play for them, you know? But I am here, and it’s kind of like a dream that becomes reality, because I am here.

Q: Did you have any favorite Yankees?
A: (Jorge) Posada.

Q: Why?
A: I used to love watching him throw guys out at second base. I used to love the fiery personality that he had, and at the same time, in the dugout, you would see him have fun with his teammates, at the same time motivating his teammates. I really liked all that.

Q: A scouting report on Ronald Torreyes.
A: I would say someone that’s respectful and that has a lot of respect to the game and has discipline to get to the park early and work hard, to go through his routine and when it’s time for the game, execute the little things in the game, whatever that is and whatever is needed at the moment, depending what the situation is in the game.

Q: Are you recognized when you walk around in the Bronx where you live?
A: Where I live, I don’t really go out and walk around a lot. But there’s been a couple of occasions where I’ve been in the city, and people definitely recognize me and they say hello to me, and I say hello to them.

Q: Favorite New York City things.
A: New York city’s such a live city. If you go down to 42nd Street, you can see so many different people from many different places. I like how the Statue of Liberty looks, I think it looks really nice. There are many different malls that I can take my family to and just spend some time with them walking around, or buying some stuff, or just eating some food.

Q: Who would you want to sit down and talk baseball with?
A: Vizquel. I’ve met him, but what I would like to do is maybe go out to dinner and sit down and talk more about how he prepared himself and how he was so good at defense.

Q: How good will Gleyber Torres be?
A: He’s a really good player. I think when the time comes, he’s going to help us a lot.

Sylvester Stallone (right) and Michael B. Jordan in “Creed.”Barry Wetcher

Q: Favorite movie?
A: American Pie.

Q: Favorite actor?
A: Stallone.

Q: Favorite meal?
A: Latin food.

Q: What would it mean to you to play in a World Series?
A: It would be super special to go to the World Series and have the opportunity to win it. It would be amazing. But the reason why it would be so meaningful to me is because we would do it as a team. We work for that all year round, and to have the opportunity to be there with your teammates and actually winning it, would be the best gift I could ask for.

Q: Why can this team win a World Series?
A: I would say the reason why is because we are a really good team with so much talent, we believe in ourselves, we believe we can do it, and this is a close team here that’s like a family, and I think we have everything we need to do it.

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