Andres Torres was waiting by the batting cage behind the Giants dugout this morning, his bat resting on his shoulder. He had already taken his swings but was back for another session before today’s game against the Diamondbacks.
“I didn’t really learn anything about hitting until I was 18,” he said. That’s when he left Puerto Rico for Miami-Dade Community College to play baseball. “I think if you don’t learn it when you’re a kid, it’s a lot tougher. I’m still learning.”
For years, Torres managed to survive in professional baseball on his speed. In 12 years, he played 89 games in the major leagues – compiling a .210 average. Until he made the Giants roster out of spring camp this year, he hadn’t worn a major-league uniform in more than three years.
“I was just fast,” Torres said. “But I didn’t know how to hit. It just took me a lot of time to learn. It took me awhile just to learn that you can’t just be fast. You’ve got to be able to swing the bat.”
He studies other batters. He takes video of himself in the batting cage and consults with hitting coach Carney Lansford. He talks to other players. In other words, he is applying to batting the kind of studiousness he has once reserved solely for running.
And perhaps no baseball player knows more about running fast than Torres. He has made the cultivation of speed his life’s work.
He studies human kinetics and physiology to understand how the body generates speed. He is a student of the books of Tudor Bompa, who writes about a training method called “periodization.” He studies videos and training regimens of Olympic sprinters like Asafa Powell of Jamaica. He scours the internet for the latest techniques.
Even at 31, he’s the fastest guy on the Giants – and Eugenio Velez is no slouch.
“Age doesn’t matter if you work at it,” Torres said.
Friday night, his two passions came together.
He hit a pinch-hit solo home run in the eighth inning Friday night in a 2-0 win against the Diamondbacks. It was only the second homer of his ML career.
Almost by instinct, he flew around the bases so fast that he reached home plate before the relief pitchers — watching the game in a room behind the dugout – had reached the field.
More on Torres in a later blog . . .
∑ Saw Joe Martinez today in the clubhouse. He looks amazingly good. He said the only symptom of the hit to his head is fatigue. He’s tired a lot, he says, but he thinks it might just be from lying around. “You get tired when you’re not doing anything,” Martinez said. “So I don’t really think it has anything to do with the injury.”
I’m leaving the press box to watch the game from my seats in Section 109 . . .