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Rays

Rays notes: Pitcher Torres on comeback trail

Published:   |   Updated: May 17, 2013 at 05:54 AM
ST. PETERSBURG -

When LHP Alex Torres arrived in the Tampa Bay Rays’ clubhouse following his promotion from Triple-A Durham on Thursday afternoon, he was completing the latest step in what has become a major comeback.

The victim of a miserable 2012 season, one in which he posted a 3-7 record and a 7.30 ERA for Durham, Torres spent most of the past year sliding down the organizational depth chart.

His fall was so great that by the time spring training rolled around this year, Torres was struggling to stay in the same conversation as fellow pitching prospects Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi.

But Torres has followed up an impressive spring training with an equally impressive start at Durham, where he had a 2-2 record and a 2.39 ERA in 371/3 innings through his call-up Thursday.

“(Rays pitching coach Jim) Hickey told me in spring training, ‘You have the stuff — the fastball, a good slider and change-up — you just have to go out there, throw the ball over the plate and make it happen.’’’

He’s made it happen, all right. Torres came to the Rays as a roster replacement for David Price having struck out 49 batters while limiting opposing hitters to a .190 batting average.

His comeback didn’t really start in spring training, though. It started during the winter, when Torres regained his form during a Gulf Coast League season in which he compiled a 1-1 record and 3.18 ERA in 11 1/3 innings of work.

“A lot of times you shy away from your pitchers going to winter ball, but I do believe it’s helped him a lot, particularly in terms of his throwing motion and his confidence level,’’ Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

“I mean, this guy’s got great stuff. He has strikeout stuff. He’s got that chase kind of stuff you want. He’s got the ability to pitch in this division, and he’s really got good makeup.

“He’s a tough guy, and so it’s just a matter of him throwing strikes when he has to. Really, all the credit goes to him. This kid really wanted it. He went down, did a great job, and now he’s on the verge of becoming a major league pitcher.’’

Dress code
 
Rays UTL Ryan Roberts isn’t necessarily a coat-and-tie kind of guy. That’s why he welcomes themed road trips such as the one the Rays left on following Thursday’s game against the Red Sox.

The Rays players were asked to wear camouflage for this six-game trip. That’s quite a difference from the attire Roberts became accustomed to wearing during his four years with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“We had to wear suits there,’’ Roberts said. “We didn’t always have to wear a tie, but sometimes we did. So yeah, I like this. It’s a nice change. It helps to make it fun for the guys.

“It gives us a chance to do something other than the norm. I’ve never done it before, but it’s fun to see what guys are going to wear and how each one’s personal preference (relates to) the theme. It’s cool.’’

Another day at the office
 
Count Maddon among those who was sorry to see “The Office” close out its nine-season run on NBC on Thursday night. Of course, Maddon is also among those who thought the show might have run a little too long.

“Minus Michael Scott it has not been the same for me,” Maddon said. “From day one, I got into that show based on him, but without him it would be like ‘MASH’ without Alan Alda or ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ without Larry David.”

Noteworthy
 
Price is only the third pitcher to post one win or fewer in his first nine starts of a season after winning the Cy Young Award in the previous season. The others are Zack Grienke (2010) and Bartolo Colon (2006). … The Rays are only 11-14 vs. right-handed starters this year.

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