Ex-Giant Torres pushes for comeback at World Baseball Classic originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- There might not be a former Giant who has spent more time at Oracle Park in recent years than Andres Torres. He answers the call every time the organization invites him back to celebrate a legendary player or notable anniversary and he attends several games a year as a fan.
During all of those appearances, Torres still looks very much like someone who could run out to center field and try to chase a line drive down. At the age of 44, he's hoping to prove that he can.
The former Giants outfielder appeared on the NBC Sports Bay Area postgame show on Wednesday night and said he plans to play winter ball this offseason in hopes of representing Puerto Rico at the 2023 World Baseball Classic. It is a long shot, but Torres is working out five days a week to prepare for his return to winter ball.
"I was at home and I'm like, you know what, I feel great," Torres said. "And one of those days I was like, you know what, I'm going to do it. I'm training and getting ready. I'm very excited."
Torres last played in Major League Baseball in 2013 and walked away from the game after a stint in Triple-A with the Boston Red Sox a year later. But the passion has remained, along with the energy.
Torres said he still has the physical base to be a professional athlete because of years of intense training for his big league career. He was concerned about getting his speed back -- a key for him -- but said he feels like he's running well right now.
The game has changed a lot since Torres retired, and he's changing the way he trains to try and be ready. Velocity is king now, and Torres said he's taking BP against pitches in the upper 90s while also working on his vision. He was a switch-hitter in the big leagues but will only hit from his natural right side, which feels more comfortable but also allows him to avoid getting two swings ready for game action.
"I never kind of had the opportunity to maximize my right side," he said. "Right now I feel pretty good. I'm hitting the ball with a lot of power."
Torres never got a chance to represent Puerto Rico while in the big leagues, with an injury wiping away one opportunity, and cracking the roster -- if he can stay healthy during winter ball -- will be difficult. Their 2017 WBC roster was stocked with active big leaguers and the tournament should only be a bigger draw this time around, but Torres doesn't have to look far for inspiration.
Former Giants outfielder Angel Pagan represented Puerto Rico in 2017 after finishing up his contract with the Giants a year earlier. Of course, Pagan was 35 at the time. Torres turns 45 in January, but he's excited to give this a try and take a shot at representing an island that has been ravaged by Hurricane Fiona.
"Right now we're going through a lot," Torres said. "Puerto Rico, it's an emergency. My family is doing well, thank god, but a lot of areas got affected and I'm going to try to support them. I wish my Puerto Rican people all the best because when you're in that position with no power and some people lose their homes, it's very sad."