NEW YORK -- Just in time for the fall season, nightly tapings of "The TOE-Night Show" have become the unexpected breakout hit in the Yankees' dugout.
After each of the Yankees' three home runs in Wednesday's 6-1 victory over the Rays, the players held a series of hilarious mock news conferences as they congregated around homer-hitters Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks.
The idea for the running gag came one day earlier from utility infielder Ronald Torreyes, who served as the cameraman during each episode. Torreyes had been inspired by Castro's second-inning blast in Tuesday's Yanks' 6-1 win over Tampa Bay, which marked Castro's first homer since Sept. 7 vs. Baltimore.
"I was just sitting back here in the dugout," Torreyes said through an interpreter. "It was a long time coming for Castro. When he hit that home run, the first thing that came into my mind was to get the guys together and set up an interview and ask him how he felt."
With Didi Gregorius serving as the lead interviewer, Torreyes first cradled a bat as his makeshift camera, then upgraded his equipment Wednesday to use a bulky plastic tub of sunflower seeds. Gregorius, Castro, Luis Severino and Miguel Andujar fashioned microphones out of water bottles and paper cups.
"We just grabbed whatever was over there and just went with it," Gregorius said. "We're trying to have some fun, trying to keep everybody loose. We're having a really good time with it."
It has been an upbeat month for the Yankees, who are still sharing laughs over the "Thumbs Down Guy," a 54-year-old Mets fan named Gary Dunaier who became an Internet sensation after offering a less-than-enthusiastic review to the Yanks' play earlier this month at Citi Field. Since then, the players have been wearing "Thumbs Down" T-shirts and mimicking the gesture after big hits.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the interview sessions were a "very clever" addition to the revelry, and believes that the team's fun attitude can translate into wins.
"You don't want players not to be loose when they're playing," Girardi said. "You want them to be relaxed and enjoying themselves, and in a sense almost taking themselves back to being a little kid and playing with that enthusiasm."
The interviews are legitimate, Gregorius said. Castro in particular appeared to give thoughtful responses following his blast Wednesday.
"We just ask, 'How does it feel to hit a home run?' 'What pitch?'" Gregorius said. "Stuff like that. We keep it fun."
Castro said that he answered the queries in Spanish, while Bird and Hicks spoke English. Like baseball itself, the faux news program is a bilingual experience.
"That's why we have Didi around," Torreyes said. "He can speak five, six different languages. That's why he's the person asking the questions."
Torreyes has been an important and versatile part of the Yankees' success. Girardi said that the club might not be in position to head to the postseason if it were not for Torreyes, who filled in when Gregorius missed most of April with a right shoulder strain.
"He's a fun guy to be around," Gregorius said. "He's always ready to go, especially when he's playing. I think everybody notices that, too, that he does a really good job."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.