Giants' Blanco, Torres accept platoon in left field
04/23/2013 12:00 AM
04/23/2013 8:08 AM
SAN FRANCISCO – Andres Torres had not started a game in a week and had four plate appearances in that span when he came up for the first time Sunday against the Padres' Eric Stults.
On the third pitch, Torres, starting in left field for the Giants against a left-hander, sat back on a slow, looping curveball from Stults and lined it into right field for a double.
Torres ultimately scored the first run of the Giants' three-run third inning and later added a single to go 2 for 3. It raised his average 40 points. Playing time has been scarce for Torres early under the Giants' platoon strategy in left field, though that figured to change with the Giants facing left-handers in the first two games of their series against the Diamondbacks.
This spring, manager Bruce Bochy planned to start out playing Torres against left-handers and Gregor Blanco against right-handers, and segue into going with the hotter hitter.
So far, he hasn't had to make a choice. Blanco entered Monday batting .275 (14 for 51) with a team-high seven walks and Torres .281 (9 for 32).
"We have no plans to change," Bochy said of the platoon Monday. "We knew they would give us great defense and baserunning, but offensively we would have to see how that would work. As long as it's working, we're going to let it go."
Blanco was the starting left fielder for the Giants in the World Series six months ago, and Torres has started 100 or more games in two of the past three years, so the fact the platoon has worked so far is due partly to both being "unselfish guys," Bochy said.
Blanco recorded consecutive multihit games before going hitless Saturday against the Padres in what was likely his final start for at least three days.
"It's not going to be easy, but this is the situation we have," Blanco said. "And I think the chemistry is more important than anything else. Like I said in spring training, we're going to build one man."
Blanco said he and Torres talk often. His advice to Torres on Sunday, he said, amounted to: "Just let it go."
"Don't think about how you don't play for a couple games, and if that's going to be the only situation you have in a week – don't think about those things," Blanco said. "Just think about the moment you're playing in."
Torres said that resonated with something Blanco said earlier in the week about his own approach at the plate.
"He told me, 'Hey, I'm just going to see it, hit it,' " Torres said. "We always talk about that. Sometimes you can't think about mechanics."
That's especially the case, Torres said, when he's trying to stay sharp during layoffs largely with cage work.
Torres' four previous plate appearances before Sunday were as a pinch hitter in the eighth or ninth innings.
Torres failed on a sacrifice bunt attempt in the ninth inning of a 2-2 game Friday night but atoned by reaching on a fielder's choice, stealing second and scoring the winning run when Angel Pagan singled.
"There's no excuses in this game," Torres said. "Whenever they need me, I just need to be ready, and I feel really comfortable with that."
Perhaps as important is the comfort of the guy working alongside this revolving situation in the outfield.
Pagan said he usually likes to communicate visually rather than verbally with his corner outfielders on fly balls because of crowd noise – not a universal method.
"I like to see their mouth move (calling for it), or if they give me the glove or hand, I'll leave them alone," Pagan said. "Obviously, I've played more with Gregor than Torres, but Torres has done a tremendous job of communicating and being more visual than verbal."
That both have good speed is a bonus, Pagan said, particularly when the Giants are at home and Pagan has to worry about cavernous Triples Alley in right-center.
"They're two center fielders," Pagan said. "They can cover a lot of ground, and that gives me space to move a little more to the gap, because they can cover the rest.
"It's a great problem to have."
About This BlogMatt Kawahara has covered baseball for The Sacramento Bee for three years. Kawahara, a McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley graduate, joined The Bee in 2010. Before joining Sports, he was a general assignment news reporter. Reach Kawahara at email@example.com. Twitter: @matthewkawahara.
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