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03/30/11 1:03 PM ET
Torres ready to kick off Giants' title defense
Outfielder likely to get first at-bat in first career Opening Day start
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Years ago, Andres Torres was fascinated as he watched a telecast of a Major League home opener and saw a bald eagle swoop down from the skies to deliver a baseball for the ceremonial first pitch. You might say that in Torres' case, the eagle has once again landed. Torres' baseball journey has been especially arduous. He played for five organizations in 11 seasons before joining the Giants, with whom he has found a niche. Torres made his first Opening Day roster in 2009, his initial year with San Francisco, but didn't play in the season's first game. He pinch-hit in last year's opener. Now, Torres literally occupies a central role with the Giants -- he's expected to start in center field in Thursday's season opener at Los Angeles. Moreover, Torres likely will lead off -- meaning that he'll officially launch San Francisco's defense of its treasured World Series title. Those who know the enthusiastic Torres wonder how he'll stay in the batter's box.
"I'm excited, but I'm going to try to stay calm," he said.At 33, Torres has proven that he can deliver a composed, yet concerted, effort in high-profile games. He hit a respectable .276 in the postseason. As has been the case during his entire career, Torres didn't give up. The switch-hitter batted .115 (3-for-26) with 12 strikeouts and no extra-base hits in the Giants' first seven postseason games. Then he posted a .406 average (13-for-32) with four doubles and a homer in the last eight postseason dates, which encompassed the pressure-packed conclusion of the National League Championship Series and the World Series. "You play all those playoff and World Series games, you're ready to go," Torres said. Torres knows that Opening Day will add to his list of meaningful baseball experiences. Recalling his first opener in 2009, he said, "It was very special because I had never been in an Opening Day and I had always wanted to be in one," he said. But, he added, "I told myself I wish I could be in the starting lineup." Last year, Torres received a thrill as the Giants entered AT&T Park before pregame introductions through the center-field gate and marched en masse to the dugout instead of simply emerging from the tunnel. "It was very nice," Torres said. This year, he plans on sticking around a while in center field. "Everybody's ready for this," he said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.