Programming note: For all the latest from Giants spring training, tune in to Raising Arizona, tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Andres Torres had no interest in taking the Juan Uribe route.
Early this past winter, after the Mets cut Torres loose, the Dodgers called and expressed interest in signing him. But at the same time, Torres had been keeping in touch with Bruce Bochy and made sure the Giants’ manager understood he was very, very keen on returning.
“I hope Giants,” Torres said. “I want to be with the Giants. And thanks to God, I’m back.”
In a knit cap, workout shorts and a giant smile, the hyperactive little outfielder shook hands, ran some wind sprints, returned to the clubhouse, shook more hands and smiled all the more. He is 35 years old. You’d think this was his first day to be paid to play baseball.
“He does have a lot of energy,” said Hunter Pence, who runs at nearly the same speed. “I don’t know the word, but when you’re around him, it’s kind of uplifting.”
Torres, one of the most heartwarming heroes of the 2010 World Series club, couldn’t be happier to be back. And unlike Uribe, who bolted for the Dodgers after playing the two archrivals off each other following that magical season, Torres had no interest in driving up his price.
“I told my agent, `I don’t care. I just want to be in San Francisco,’” said Torres, who signed for a $2 million guarantee. “Money for me is … I just want to be in a place where I am happy and comfortable and where the fans treated me like I was family.
I really missed San Francisco. I cannot lie about that.”
He is also honest about this: When the Giants traded him along with right-hander Ramon Ramirez (who also re-signed this winter) to the Mets for Angel Pagan, Torres was crushed.
“I know you get traded and you have to move on,” said Torres, “but you have to feel what is in your heart, too.”
Torres never watched all the World Series games on TV before. It’s too hard to sit still. But he watched all four games this time, and was nervous as ever when he sat in the stands at AT&T Park for one of the elimination games in the NLCS, too.
“The torture?” Torres said. “Now I know.”
Torres said he also had interest from the Reds, and the Mets wanted to keep the lines of communication open after non-tendering him. But then the Giants came through with what he wanted.
“He’s a Giant at heart,” Bochy said. “I explained the situation, how we may not have a starting role for him. But he wanted to be back on the team and in the city that he loves.”
Torres, a switch hitter, is likely to form a platoon in left field with Gregor Blanco, Bochy said. You don’t get as many at-bats when you’re facing left-handers, which Torres continued to hit well last season. But he had a much rougher time against right-handers and so he overhauled his approach from the left side. He worked all winter to “stay short and stay square” while working the opposite field.
“And I’m still really fast,” he said. “I just told Bochy, `Whenever you need me, I’ll be there.’ They know what I’m about.”
Well, maybe not whenever whenever. It turns out Torres is among those who plan to play in the World Baseball Classic. He’ll suit up alongside Pagan for Puerto Rico.
It’s hard to think of a uniform that would mean more to him. Then again, it isn’t.