Reliever Torres wonders about Bucs' plans

Rob Biertempfel
| Monday, July 16, 2007

ATLANTA - Salomon Torres walked into the Pirates clubhouse early Sunday morning and insisted he wants to remain with the team for the rest of his career.

But the right-handed reliever wonders whether the feeling is mutual.

"I would like to stay here," Torres said. "I've been suffering for a long time, so I'm not about to just leave. I'm not a quitter. I'm going to stay here with my team and my teammates. They like me, and I like them.

"But, if I'm not in (management's) plans, you know, it would be wise to get a divorce."

Two weeks ago, Torres accused management -- specifically, general manager Dave Littlefield -- of reneging on a handshake agreement for the team to rent one of Torres' two baseball academies in the Dominican Republic.

Torres also said his rehabilitation assignment in the minors was being unnecessarily extended to the point where he thought if might be a form of punishment.

Yesterday, Torres, who had been rehabbing with Triple-A Indianapolis, was activated from the disabled list. He was in uniform in time for the afternoon game against the Atlanta Braves.

Torres was in his usual buoyant mood as he dressed for the pregame stretch. He was eager to talk about his rejuvenated right elbow, but did not want to rehash his disagreements with the front office.

"That's a topic that we can discuss later," Torres said. "I'm not here to be a burden or to create controversy. I'll go out and do my thing. You treat me with respect, and I'll do the same."

Torres' recall yesterday but was bit of a surprise. He had been scheduled to pitch one inning yesterday for Indianapolis before rejoining the Pirates.

Instead, Torres' cell phone rang around 1 a.m. yesterday. Five hours later, he was on a plane bound for Atlanta.

Why the sooner-than-expected callup?

"Your guess is as good as mine," Torres said.

It could be that the Pirates simply figured Torres had nothing left to prove against minor league batters. All the reports on him have been positive.

"We'll get him back out there on the mound and see if it's as good as has been advertised," manager Jim Tracy said.

Yesterday, the results were mixed. Torres got two quick outs in the seventh inning, then issued back-to-back walks to Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones. Jeff Francoeur lined an RBI single to left.

Of the 21 pitches Torres threw in the inning, only nine were strikes.

With the non-waiver trade deadline looming in 15 days, opposing teams' scouts want every chance they can get to see potential acquisitions in action.

The Colorado Rockies, who today open a three-game series against the Pirates at PNC Park, have been interested in Torres for a while.

Torres went on the DL with elbow inflammation. He made two appearances for the Pirates' Gulf Coast League team in Bradenton, Fla., then pitched Friday for Indianapolis.

In those three outings, Torres tossed a combined 4 13 scoreless innings. He allowed three hits and struck out seven.

"I'm feeling really good," Torres said. "I feel like the old me, using all my (arm slot) angles and everything. I've been feeling really good for a long time, so I was really eager to get called up."

Torres looked particularly strong Friday. He entered the game with two men on base and two outs in the sixth inning, and got an out. He then struck out the side in the seventh.

"All I want to do is help my team as much as they can use me," Torres said. "They can use me every day if they want to. I got the rest that I needed and worked on the things that I needed to work on. I got my elbow back.

"I'm just excited to be here. I feel like a kid who was called up for the first time."

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