ST. PETERSBURG - LHP Alex Torres is quickly proving his worth as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays' pitching staff.
On Tuesday, Torres was perfect in the seventh inning of the Rays' 4-1 win against the Minnesota Twins, striking out two of three batters that inning. He also pitched in Monday's win against the Twins. The consecutive appearances were a first for Torres this season.
Rays manager Joe Maddon decided to rest Torres on Wednesday, but he said he will be available today for the series finale against Minnesota.
This season, Torres is 3-0 with a 0.35 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 26 innings. He's allowed one earned run and six hits.
"We knew he was a very good young pitcher, that he was going to be very good someday, a starter, maybe as a reliever, but we just didn't visualize this, nobody did," Maddon said. "He's been nearly lights-out the entire time he has been here. (He has) command, fastball command ability, really outstanding change-up, a little slider cutter, great mound composure, all the above."
Torres spent the 2012 season at Triple-A Durham. He made one appearance on the Rays' roster as the 26th man for a doubleheader and did not pitch. In 2011, he made four relief appearances in two stints with the Rays but spent the remainder of the season in Durham.
Maddon said Torres' emergence will give other guys in the bullpen a rest going into the second half of the season.
"Getting everybody on some firm ground, it does make the outlook look better going into the latter part of the season," Maddon said. "The biggest thing from my seat is to not wear people down, not wear people out."
Said Torres: "When I came here, I just came with my mindset that I'm going to go to the bullpen to help and give some rest to the guys that have been throwing a lot. After that, just keep pitching well. I'm feeling really great. I feel really confident. My confidence right now is like 'I can do this.' I'm feeling like I've been here for a while."
Early riser: Today's 12:10 p.m. start puts a bit of a strain on LHP Matt Moore, who said he typically likes to sleep in.
Moore said one of the challenges of the early game will be "making sure I get to bed a little extra early.
"It is a little weird, but at the same time it makes for a good night off, and if we can get out with a win, maybe grab some dinner somewhere."
Disco Joe: Maddon filmed a special intro video Wednesday for Saturday's Disco Night.
"I just had to walk in. It was all about walking, and I can do that," Maddon joked. "I wore my desert boots and a 'Star Trek' shirt. Desert boots were big in the '70s."