Giants, Andres Torres agree on one-year deal


Giants, Andres Torres agree on one-year deal

SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants already brought back World Series heroes from 2012 when they re-signed Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Affeldt.

Now they’re bringing the band back together from the 2010 World Series championship, too – one of its most popular members, at least.

The club is saying hello to Andres Torres, agreeing to terms with the fan-favorite outfielder on a one-year contract. CSN Bay Area has learned that Torres will receive a major league deal worth $2 million and will be added to the 40-man roster once he passes a physical.

The Giants began talking to Torres as soon as he was non-tendered by the New York Mets on Nov. 30. He’s expected to provide depth at all three outfield positions and push Gregor Blanco for time in left field.

A switch hitter, Torres would be suited to form the right-handed portion of a platoon with Blanco. He hit .286 with a .382 on-base percentage against left-handed pitchers last season with the Mets. (He hit .195 against right-handers.)

Torres also provides more athleticism off the bench as a pinch hitter and pinch runner on days he does not start.

“He’s been a good Giant, he’s good against left-handed pitching and can play truthfully all three outfield positions,” Giants vice president Bobby Evans told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve won with pitching and defense and that’s a clear strength of his.”

Torres, who turns 35 on Jan. 26, provided a vital spark to the Giants in 2010 after joining the team a year earlier as a non-roster free agent. He hit .268 with a .343 on-base percentage and smacked 43 doubles and 16 home runs while scoring 84 runs. Torres began to fade down the stretch that season and missed a month because of an appendectomy, but returned in the playoffs.

Torres also became a beloved figure with fans who appreciated his all-out style on the field, his humility off the field and the candid way he discussed his battle to conquer attention-deficit syndrome during his long career in the minor leagues. The native of Puerto Rico is the subject of a documentary, “Gigante,” that delves into his life story.

He was the 2010 recipient of the Willie Mac Award as the most inspirational player, as selected by his fellow players and coaches.

Torres’ training methods include jumping up muddy hills and throwing tires, all barefoot while wearing designer jeans.

Last winter, the Giants, concerned about Torres’ high strikeout totals in 2011, traded him to the Mets along with right-hander Ramon Ramirez for Pagan. That trade turned out to be one of the most important deals of the offseason, as Pagan played to an All-Star level and was particularly effective after moving back into the leadoff role on Aug. 3.

Now that Pagan is back on a four-year, $40 million contract, the Giants essentially obtained him for Ramirez and a one-year rental of Torres. Not too shabby.

MLB becomes whole new ballgame since Cubs last World Series trip


MLB becomes whole new ballgame since Cubs last World Series trip

One way to realize just how long it's been since the Chicago Cubs last reached the World Series is to look at how much the game has changed since then, on and off the field.

The Cubs are making their first appearance since 1945 and chasing their first title since 1908.

Some of the ways the game has changed since the Cubs lost Game 7 to the Detroit Tigers some 71 years ago:

INTEGRATION: Jackie Robinson became the first black player to reach the major leagues in 1947, two years after the Cubs' last World Series appearance. Baseball has turned into a virtual melting pot in the seven decades since. The Cubs' roster includes players from Cuba (reliever Aroldis Chapman and outfielder Jorge Soler), along with Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, as well as the United States.

EXPANSION: There were 16 teams in the majors in 1945, including two in St. Louis, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago, and three in New York. The total is up to 30 now.

GO WEST: There were no major league franchises west of St. Louis in 1945. The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the New York Giants headed to San Francisco in 1958. In 1969, the Seattle Pilots showed up - they went 64-98 in their first year, then became the Milwaukee Brewers.

DIVISIONAL PLAY: There were no divisions in 1945, just eight teams in both the American League and National League. They split into East and West divisions in 1969. Then a Central was created in 1994, with the Cubs shifting from the NL East to the NL Central.

PLAYOFFS PLUS: Extra teams and divisions resulted in expanded playoffs. The League Championship Series began in 1969, the Division Series started in 1995 and a one-game wild-card playoff came in 2012. A longer postseason pushed the World Series deep into October and beyond. If the Cubs and Cleveland go the distance this year, Game 7 would be on Nov. 2.

FREE AGENCY: When Phil Cavarretta and Peanuts Lowrey helped lead the Cubs to the 1945 Series, they were bound to the team until they were traded or released. Curt Flood tested baseball's reserve clause in the early 1970s and took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, helping pave the way for players to move around as free agents. Jon Lester, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist are among the players the Cubs acquired this way.

DESIGNATED HITTER: The designated hitter joined the American League lineup in 1973. The DH debate is still hot, with the leagues playing by different rules. When this year's World Series opens at the AL park, both teams will use the DH; when the Cubs host, the pitchers will hit.

LIGHTS AT WRIGLEY: The Cubs were the last team in the majors to play only day games. That changed when lights were installed at Wrigley Field in 1988. The games there have always been played outdoors on green grass, never under a dome or on artificial turf, trends that became popular starting with the Astrodome in the mid-1960s.

With NLCS loss, Dodgers' World Series drought reaches 28 years

With NLCS loss, Dodgers' World Series drought reaches 28 years

CHICAGO -- Clayton Kershaw's playoff renaissance is over, at least for this year. The Los Angeles Dodgers ace flopped at a big moment - again.

Kershaw's postseason resume took another hit in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series, finishing off the reeling Dodgers. The Chicago Cubs battered the three-time Cy Young Award winner on their way to a 5-0 victory Saturday night, making it 28 years and counting since the Dodgers last won the World Series.

"This day is never fun, the ending of a season," Kershaw said. "You look back and think about the whole season as a whole. It's tough to swallow tonight, obviously, but I'd rather be in this position and fail than not to get to be in this situation at all."

Kershaw could have started Game 5 on three days' rest, but manager Dave Roberts decided to save him for Saturday night at Wrigley Field. Roberts was hoping a couple more days would help Kershaw duplicate his performance from Game 2, when he pitched seven innings of two-hit ball in a 1-0 victory.

The decision worked out quite well - for the Cubs. After winning a pair of shutouts in Games 2 and 3, the Dodgers dropped the next two by a combined score of 18-6. Even the great Kershaw was unable to slow Chicago's momentum, and Roberts' first season as Dodgers manager ended in disappointment.

The left-hander allowed four earned runs and seven hits while dropping to 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in 18 playoff games.

"I think that the first thing I saw is the Cubs hitters, they had a great game plan tonight," Roberts said. "And there was a couple mistake sliders that they took advantage of. But they were running counts, they used the whole field, and there was traffic all night for Clayton. And he gave it everything he had, but when they did - when he did make a mistake, they made him pay."

Dexter Fowler hit a ground-rule double on Kershaw's third pitch of the night, and the Cubs were off and running. Kris Bryant followed with an RBI single. Then left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Anthony Rizzo's fly ball to the gap in left-center, setting up Ben Zobrist's sacrifice fly.

It was the first time Kershaw had given up two runs in the first inning all season. He was limited to 21 starts this year due to a back injury.

"You get out of that first inning and you give up two, you feel like you have a chance maybe," Kershaw said. "They just kept tacking on runs. I gave up some two-out hits and some homers and some two-strike hits - just a lot of things that you can't do in a game like this."

Fowler added a two-out RBI single in the second, rookie Willson Contreras hit a leadoff drive in the fourth and Anthony Rizzo connected in the fifth. Rizzo became the first lefty batter to homer against Kershaw since Daniel Murphy for the New York Mets in Game 4 of their 2015 Division Series.

It was the first time Kershaw had allowed two homers in a game since April 9 at San Francisco. That was it for Roberts, who hit for his star pitcher in the sixth.

"We have asked a lot of Clayton all year long, so, again, it's just more of you got to give those hitters credit," Roberts said.

While Kershaw struggled against the Cubs, the Dodgers were shut down by Kyle Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman. Los Angeles managed just two hits and four baserunners, with none of them advancing past first.

Chicago became the first team to face the minimum in a postseason game since Don Larsen's perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series.

"We had a 2-1 lead with two games at home and it didn't go the way we thought it would go," Los Angeles center fielder Joc Pederson said. "We didn't take care of business. We made some mistakes, all of us."

Roberts managed the Dodgers to their fourth straight NL West title after taking over for Don Mattingly. But injuries to Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson and Hyun-Jin Ryu hurt rotation depth.

Kenta Maeda, who won 16 games during his rookie season, struggled in the playoffs, and 20-year-old Julio Urias was knocked out in the fourth inning of his first postseason start in Game 4 on Wednesday night.

Los Angeles went with three starters in the Division Series against Washington and Kershaw pitched three times, including a two-out save in the clinching Game 5. When he stepped up again in his first start in the NLCS, it looked as if he might be on the verge of a postseason breakthrough.

But his turnaround came to a screeching halt on a cool night in the Windy City. He dropped to 1-3 with a 6.28 ERA in five career starts with the Dodgers facing postseason elimination, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's only going to make him stronger for the years coming on," Pederson said. "He's had some trouble with his back and overcame it and came and helped us win the division and get past the NLDS. We wouldn't be here without him. He'll be stronger for next year."