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  • Darron Cummings / Associated Press

    A banner at Scottsdale Stadium is a reminder that the Giants are the reigning world champions.

  • Andres Torres: A calf injury had him on the disabled list early last season. He hit just .230 with three home runs and 13 stolen bases for the Mets. Being back with the Giants is "home for me," Torres said.

Torres is happy to be back with S.F.

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 - 8:17 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – There are professional athletes who respond to trades by declaring "it's a business," and there are those who outwardly display their disappointment, even bitterness.

Then there is Andres Torres' assessment of the 2011 deal that shipped him from the Giants to New York for Angel Pagan, who would play center field on a championship club as Torres struggled for the lowly Mets.

"It was a great trade," Torres said. "Pagan is a great player and a great guy. San Francisco won the World Series again and (Pagan) was great."

That last word was used often by Torres on Tuesday, when pitchers and catchers reported to Scottsdale Stadium for the start of the 2013 season.

In a crowded clubhouse filled with returning champions and young minor leaguers soaking in the big-league life, nobody had a bigger smile than Torres, who circled the room with hugs and handshakes.

"I'm so happy to be back," Torres said. "This is a dream come true."

His lifelong dream was first realized in 2010, when Torres, a journeyman outfielder, played in 139 games, hit 16 homers and scored 84 runs for a championship team. He was popular in the clubhouse and a darling of the fans, but his career U-turned in 2011.

Torres hit .221 with just four homers in the failed quest for a repeat title. His on-base plus slugging percentage dropped from .823 to .643, and in December he was traded to the Mets, with right-hander Ramon Ramirez, who agreed last week to a minor league contract with the Giants.

A calf injury landed Torres on the disabled list early last season and he never recovered, hitting .230 with just three homers and 13 stolen bases. Free agency can be a wasteland for veteran outfielders coming off back-to-back poor seasons, but the 35-year-old Torres is capable of playing all three positions.

Torres said the Mets tried to bring him back, and the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers expressed interest. Throughout the process, he was eyeing only one destination.

"This is home for me," he said. "San Francisco gave me an opportunity when I was in the minors to make the team and gave me a job. I won the World Series here. I really appreciated those things. You have to do what's best for your family, but I really wanted to be here."

Torres placed multiple phone calls to manager Bruce Bochy, and when his agent began to talk terms with other teams, Torres insisted he didn't care about money. He wanted to go where he felt comfortable.

"His message was really (about) how badly he wanted to come back," Bochy said of the phone calls. "He was a Giant at heart."

Bochy has already mapped out Torres' path to production and envisions him in a platoon with Gregor Blanco, another speedy, defensive-minded veteran who broke through when the Giants gave him a chance.

"We're glad to have him," Bochy said. "It gives us another gifted outfielder that can play all three positions."

Torres worked all offseason on swing adjustments from the left side, and he'll test them out this spring by representing Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Torres will share Puerto Rico's outfield with Pagan, the player he was traded for, and Carlos Beltran, a former Met and Giant.

While it would seem critical for Torres to stay in camp and try to win a job, Bochy said he encouraged Torres to represent his country.

"We know Andres," Bochy said. "It might be a little bit different if we didn't know him and have a whole lot of info about him, but we do."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Alex Pavlovic



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