02/21/11 6:49 PM EST
Torres not resting on championship laurels
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
His journeyman reputation has been replaced by his status as World Series champion.
He's become a star on and off the field. Torres can't step out of his Aguada, Puerto Rico, home without being mobbed by autograph seekers. He's become a bilingual media darling in the Bay Area.
Torres, who agreed to a one-year deal earlier this year, has also watched his salary increase by almost five-fold over last season's pay.
But in some ways, nothing has changed. Torres has a spot on San Francisco's 25-man roster but he's still trying to secure the job he wants. Torres is competing with Aaron Rowand for the starting job in center field. He could also end up in left field.
"It's going to be a position that I think is going to create a lot of interest," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "You have [Rowand] who we know has quite a track record, experience, but then you have Andres Torres who had a breakout season last year and emerged as one of the better leadoff hitters in the game.
"Andres is something this club needs in the lineup. How do we work it? I'd like to wait until we get a little deeper in the spring and see how this is going to shape up. I'm not going to designate somebody as an extra outfielder right now but I will say that Andres is an integral part of a lineup that does not have a lot of speed."
Torres, 33, hit .268 with 16 home runs, 63 RBIs and 26 stolen bases last season. He hit safely in all five World Series games while batting .276 overall in the postseason. He won the 2010 "Willie Mac" Award, given annually to honor the most inspirational player on the team.
Torres is also famous for spending the better part of 11 seasons in the Minor Leagues.
"He's a good player," Bochy said. "I don't think last year was as much of a fluke as much as he finally got a chance to go out there every day."
Rowand, who lost his everyday job in center field to Torres last year, hit a career-low .230 and appeared in 105 games last season.
"[Torres] has a lot more confidence to come out here and play," Bochy said. "Andres, since he has been here, has been in a situation where he is trying to make the club. This year, he knows that he's an important part of this club and is not the fifth outfielder."
Bochy is right. But Torres said he hasn't changed even though most of the circumstances around him have. The outfielder said he not taking anything on the field for granted. He never has.
"I've never expected to have this experience, but everything fell into place and I'm really grateful to God that it did," Torres said. "I'm still the same person. Just because we won doesn't mean that I'm a different person.
"I've never forgotten where I have come from. I know who I am," he continued. "This is all a blessing but you don't have the struggles I had growing up or in the Minor Leagues and then stop working when you win a World Series. I'm a human being and I have to work hard just like everybody else."
Torres has a passion for life and he's putting it on film. He is sharing his message of perseverance in a documentary about his life and his struggles with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He was diagnosed with ADHD in 2002.
"This life is about health and happiness," he said. "I want to share that. If people see me and they are inspired to do positive things, that makes me happy."