Giants, Andres Torres agree on one-year deal

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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.

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A couple of days before he signed a four-year deal, Mark Melancon fired off a midnight text to Nick Hundley. 

“Call me,” Melancon wrote.

When Hundley called, he found out his college teammate had chosen the Giants, ending a free agency process the two spoke about often. Two months later, it was Hundley’s turn to reach out. 

“I asked him if he wanted to play together again,” Hundley said. “He said, ‘You better not be messing with me.’”

The Giants signed just two free agents who are guaranteed of being on the opening day roster. In an odd twist, the new closer and new backup catcher have known each other for over a decade. Hundley was a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona. A year later, his college teammate Melancon was a ninth-round pick. The two have stayed close throughout the pro ball journey. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings and their wives and children hang out together. 

“We always talked about playing together,” Hundley said, adding that the odds were long in a 30-team sport.

The friends have crossed off a good chunk of them. Melancon has played for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals. Hundley has played for the Padres, Orioles and Rockies. Finally, the two have hooked on to the same team, and the Giants are excited to have them both. Hundley will be the veteran catcher the team has missed in recent years, and the Giants are hopeful that he’s a pinch-hit threat, too. Melancon, of course, was brought in to fix the glaring problem in the ninth. Hundley is confident he’ll do it.

“I’ve caught him since 2005,” he said smiling, “And he’s always been nasty.”

NEW FACE: It’s hard to take much away from drills, but Orlando Calixte certainly impressed. As the Giants worked out on the field for the first time in three days, I asked GM Bobby Evans what Calixte showed the team’s scouts. “Just his athleticism, his tools, they stand out,” Evans said. They certainly do. Calixte is smooth out there, and he showed quickness at short that might differentiate him from the pack of infield options. 

Calixte has also played second, third and the outfield in the minors, and while the Giants intend on keeping five outfielders, that versatility could come into play. The Giants plucked Calixte from Kansas City’s system and put him on the 40-man roster when it became apparent that other offers were out there. They thought he could provide more versatility than Ehire Adrianza, and it helps that he has an option remaining. Calixte has to beat out a bunch of guys to win a roster spot, but given his glove and his status on the 40-man, it would be a surprise if we don’t see him at some point this season. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy said he’ll call Johnny Cueto to talk about his preparation for the World Baseball Classic. 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain, the clear frontrunner for the No. 5 spot, faced hitters on the main field. Bochy liked what he saw. “He’s gotten more time away from that surgery and he’s throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “Buster said the same thing. It’s coming out good.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Giants are serious about making Trevor Brown a more versatile option. He fielded grounders at short today and also spent plenty of time at second. 

QUOTABLE: “Just a good day. We (the coaches) were talking about how it’s changed a little bit. We’re not even in March yet and guys are letting it go.” — Bochy on the first day of live BP sessions. The pitchers were certainly well ahead of the hitters today. 

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija whirled and fired a strike to Eduardo Nuñez shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Monday. With that, the Giants took another step back toward actual baseball.

Monday was the first day of live batting practice sessions, but the most important one took place thousands of miles east of Scottsdale Stadium. Johnny Cueto faced teenage prospects at the club’s facility in Santo Domingo, and Bruce Bochy said he would call Cueto to check in on his progress. 

The Giants are not concerned that Cueto — who is tending to his ill father — is missing so much of spring training. They know him well enough by now to know that Cueto paces himself and takes care of his body. They are, however, starting to get a little concerned about Cueto missing so much camp and then going straight to the World Baseball Classic. 

“The spring started early so he’s got plenty of time to get ready for (opening day),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The question will be will he be ready for the WBC. That’s the question we have to answer.”

Bochy said he would like to see Cueto in the 50-60 pitch range before he goes off to compete for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican team opens play March 9 at Marlins Park. 

“We’re going to talk about a lot of things,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where he’s at, see where he’s at mentally, and see how his father is doing.”

Bochy noted that Nolan Ryan used to show up to camp on March 1 and throw 80 mph, working his way up from there. The Giants view Cueto the same way, but at some point there will be a breaking point where the WBC participation becomes a real concern. At the very least, Bochy said, Cueto might be asked to join the DR team later in the tournament.