On Aug. 5, right-handed pitcher and Aptos High School alum Carlos Torres signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants and pitched three perfect innings in his debut with their AAA team in Sacramento On Aug. 11.
Inducted into the Mariners’ Hall of Fame in 2009, Torres has played for several Major League teams since being drafted in 2004, including the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, Washington Nationals, Colorado Rockies and the Milwaukee Brewers. He also played for Japan’s Yomiuri Giants in in 2011.
I was able to have a short conversation with Torres recently, talking about what it means to join the Giants’ organization and what his life as a professional baseball player as been like.
What can you tell me about signing with the Giants?
The Giants have been a team that I’ve tried to get deals done with over the years, but for one reason or another it just didn’t work out. This time around when I got the call and they told me they wanted me to throw more innings by starting, it was a very intriguing idea. Ultimately, I’m happy to be in this organization, which has also brought me, back closer to home.
What is the lifestyle of a baseball pitcher like?
If you don’t know the lifestyle of a baseball player it’s easiest explained as part nomad and part traveler. You never know what to expect or what is expected and no one is there to hold your hand.
If you want to be present for weddings, birthdays and holidays, or at least have weekends off, this isn’t the lifestyle for you. If you expect to see your family and be home when they need you, this isn’t the lifestyle for you.
If you expect to be treated fairly, have people help you through the tough times and need a pat on the back, this isn’t the lifestyle for you.
We have two or maybe three off days in a given month. You are expected to perform at the highest level every day and if you don’t there is a waiting list a mile long of guys waiting in the wings to take your job.
You can even perform your job exceptionally and still lose it. And through it all, you will have ups and downs, injuries and off-field drama, late night travel, 13-hour bus rides, get paid below minimum wage and…no one feels bad for you.
You have to have a tough skin and lots of intrinsic motivation to succeed.
How do you prepare for a game?
Physically, I lift and run a lot, making sure to warm up thoroughly. I follow a pretty stringent diet and make sure that I stay properly hydrated when I go out to pitch.
Rest and recovery are also an important part of the process, so I make sure I get enough sleep and after a workout or performance, I spend time recovering using NormaTec, the Marc Pro, a Pso-Rite or anything else that can help.
Mentally, I watch a lot of film to study hitters. You have to know your strengths and their weaknesses. Most importantly, at the end of the day you have to remember that the opposing team is desperately trying to beat you as much as you are trying to beat them.
What are your baseball career goals?
My goal has always been the same: To win. I want to win a World Series, so I’m doing everything I can to help whichever team I’m on win and get closer to that goal.
What are the secrets of a professional pitcher?
It’s simply doing what you are supposed to do.
Being a professional isn’t having magical powers; sometimes it’s as simple as going to bed when everyone else is going out. It’s doing what you are supposed to do without having someone make you do it.
If you want to be a professional you will have to discover the price and then pay it. Do you want to have a spring break in college? Well then you aren’t going to be a professional. Do you hate going to the gym and working hard? Well then you aren’t going to be a professional. Do you love pizza and donuts? Well then it’s going to be really hard to be a successful professional.
Professional pitchers—or players in general—are such a small percentage of the population; it takes a lot of discipline and sacrifice to be elite and perform at that high of a level. And always remember that it can all be easily taken away as well, so there is no room for slacking or taking anything for granted.
What is your repertoire of pitches?
I throw a 4-seam fastball, a cutter, curveball and sinker.
I also have a change to but use it so rarely in the bullpen, but starting will give me a chance to use it more and develop it too be a very affective pitch in the future.
How do you decide what to throw?
I decide what to throw based on what the film and numbers tell me. But the final decision goes to how they react to MY pitches.
The numbers are based on the results of the masses, not an individual. So I’ll always take the hitters cues above all others.
How does the communication (hand signals) between you and the catcher work?
When a pitcher is looking in the catcher will suggest a pitcher to which I’m either agree or disagree. So I either shake or throw the pitch he suggests.
That’s why the connection between the pitcher and catcher is so important. It makes the game smooth and you keep the defense sharp by keeping the action going.
When can people see you play?
As of now I’m starting every 5 days. When I’m in the bullpen it gets hard because you don’t know when you will throw.
Torres can be followed on Instagram & Twitter at @CarlosOGTorres and is also on Facebook.