Salomon Torres closes door on baseball career as family plays role in reliever’s decision
MILWAUKEE Salomon Torres changed his mind once about retirement.
The veteran relief pitcher promised he won’t do it again.
“I am very confident I am doing the right thing,” Torres said.
Acting on a promise he made to himself midway through the 2008 season, Torres informed Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin on Tuesday morning that he was retiring as an active player. The club made the announcement official later in the day.
The Brewers had a $3.75 million option for 2009 on Torres, which they would have exercised by the Saturday deadline after his strong performance as an emergency closer last season.
“I wanted to make it easy for him,” said Torres, 36, reached at home in Pittsburgh. “I already had made up my mind and wanted to tell him this was my last season.”
Torres, 36, a deeply religious man, said he wanted to devote more time to his family, including three young children, as well as his faith.
“Doug was very understanding, which I appreciate,” Torres said. “I had a wonderful experience in Milwaukee, but he knows I am serious about it.”
Torres’ decision did not completely surprise Melvin, who had heard “whispers” that the veteran reliever might retire.
“We would have liked to have him back,” said Melvin. “He did a heck of a job for us. He’s a real professional and a good teammate, and he’s coming off his best year. I give him credit and I respect his decision.”
Torres took over for the faltering Eric Gagne in late May as closer and was a stalwart, saving a career-high 28 games in 32 chances from that point (he was 28 for 35 overall). He led the Brewers with 71 appearances and 80 innings out of the bullpen, compiling a 7-5 record and 3.49 ERA.
Torres’ numbers were much better until a September fade in which he posted a 12.46 ERA over his last 10 outings. He said the fact that he would walk away from the $3.75 million option shows how serious he is about retiring.
“It was a given (that the Brewers would exercise the option),” said Torres. “It’s a small sacrifice I’m making.”
Torres briefly thought of retiring after he was traded to the Brewers last December from Pittsburgh but decided to give it a shot in Milwaukee. He said he was grateful for doing so, especially after experiencing the playoffs for the first time. Torres saved the Brewers only victory in the NLDS against Philadelphia, escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in Game 3.
“It was a great season,” he said. “I thank everybody in the city—the fans, my teammates, the reporters—for all their support. It was a privilege to play there but you don’t want to have me there half-hearted.”
Torres retired in August 1997 after pitching for Seattle and Montreal that season, but returned to baseball in 2002 after signing a minor league deal with Pittsburgh. He said he would not change his mind this time about leaving.
“I know I’m doing the right thing, for me and my family,” he said.
The loss of Torres creates a significant hole in a bullpen already thinned by free agency. Set-up men Guillermo Mota and Gagne and left-handed specialist Brian Shouse became free agents after the season.
“We’ll see what offers they get on the market and determine what we want to do,” said Melvin. “We haven’t given a lot of thought to the bullpen yet. We’ve got other holes to fill first.
“There are more relief pitchers out there than starting pitchers and left-handed bats we’re interested in. It usually takes some time to put together your bullpen.”
Melvin mentioned hard-throwing right-hander Seth McClung as an internal option to try as closer. He said he didn’t plan to bid on high-priced free agent closers such as Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes.
“We’re not going to spend a big chunk of money on a closer,” said Melvin. “We’ve found closers in the past. You usually don’t find that out until later (in the off-season).
“It’s way too early at this point.”