Urban: Torres' Pain Opens Door For Would-Be Heroes

September 12, 2010, 10:29 pm
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Sept. 12,2010
Mychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

SAN DIEGO --Before the first pitch was thrown Sunday, the Giants suffered a significantloss: Center fielderleadoff mansparkplug Andres Torres.Rushed to alocal hospital for an emergency appendectomy, Torres is expected to miss 10-14days. Its a potentially devastating blow for the Giants, because while muchhas been made of their outfield depth in general, deep in center field they arenot.Nor are theychock full of leadoff candidates. Hence, the return of Aaron Rowand to the roleSunday for the finale of the big four-game series against the host Padres atPETCO Park.The options incenter? Rowand and Cody Ross, with Darren Ford available in the event offurther emergencies.Rowand is aformer Gold Glover out there, but hes no longer an elite defender. Solid,though, as long as hes throwing to the right base and hitting cutoff men.Ross can playall over the outfield, but hes played more in center as a big leaguer thananywhere else. He runs better than Rowand and has a more consistent arm.Neither of them,however, is on Torres level -- and that much will be painfully apparent whenthe Giants get back to the wide-open spaces of AT&T Park. Torres, were hea bigger name with a longer resume, would be a very strong Gold Glovecandidate. Not only does he make a ton of spectacular plays, but he also makesthe right play, the right throw, and hemakes it far easier for manager Bruce Bochy to play range-challenged PatBurrell and Jose Guillen on the outfield corners.Offensively,Torres will be only slightly easier to replace. Hes been a great story allyear, riding white-hot streaks into conversations about who might be the teamsmost valuable player. But hes also prone to slumps, and hes been slumping oflate, batting .114 through the first nine games of the 10-game road trip thatended Sunday.If Rowand startsin center, hell probably lead off if only because hes the one guy on the teamwith significant recent experience at it, and itd be a heck of a story itselfif Rowand got hot and played a key role down the stretch.If Ross startsin center, perhaps Freddy Sanchez moves up from the No. 2 hole.Ford? Probablytoo much to ask of the kid to play a starting role during a pennant race.Better to keep him in a position to succeed, i.e., trying to impact games latewith his legs.No matter whatthe Giants do in Torres absence, the development is a bummer. But whats apennant race without a little adversity? Besides, adversity opens the door forunsung heroes, and whats a pennant race without one or two of those?