Torres goes about his business, deflects rumors

Brewers reliever enjoying solid campaign, makes highlight-reel play

July 23rd, 2016

MILWAUKEE -- For much of the season, has quietly gone about his job of successfully occupying various roles in the Brewers' bullpen, but the right-hander made a statement with a highlight-reel play and two scoreless innings in relief in Friday's 5-2 loss against the Cubs.

Torres saved a run with a diving tag of on an attempted squeeze bunt in the sixth, a play that helped lower his ERA to 3.02 -- a mark that may draw notice from contenders as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.

"He was outstanding, for sure," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That play at the plate, that was an exceptional play, really. A very athletic play, it was a great play and maybe the only play he had."

With one out in the sixth, laid down a squeeze that rolled toward Torres. As Russell darted home, Torres didn't have enough time to make the flip to catcher , so he took matters into his own hands. Instead, Torres tucked the ball in his glove and dove headfirst toward a sliding Russell to make the tag.

"He bunted the ball and I just attacked it," Torres said. "I was already there, so I just tried to make a play. My momentum was already going forward, so I just tried to make a play and luckily I did."

The heads-up hustle play drew applause from the visitors' dugout as well.

"That was pretty impressive," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "[Torres] did not want to flip the ball. I think if he'd flipped it, we'd have had a chance to score. They were ready for us. That's good baseball."

With his two scoreless frames, Torres increased his innings total to 47 2/3, the most among Brewers relievers and tied for the ninth-highest total among National League relievers. At various times, he has pitched as the setup man, mopup man, middle reliever and has two saves as a fill-in closer. Considering Milwaukee acquired him as a Minor League free agent following Spring Training, they have been quite pleased with his versatility and production.

"He's been an important guy for us all year," Counsell said. "He's served a lot of roles, pitched in a lot of different situations and has done a nice job."

It's no secret that the fourth-place Brewers are sellers, and Torres, 33, may have worked his way into those discussions. Torres appeared in 165 games and posted a 3.59 ERA and 3.94 FIP over three seasons with the Mets, but chose free agency after being designated for assignment in February. He signed a Minor League deal with the Braves, who then released him following Spring Training in late March.

Torres is striking out a career-best 9.1 batters per nine innings and has a 2.57 ERA since the beginning of May. He is arbitration-eligible the next two seasons, so the Brewers have him under team control through 2018; Torres, however, will 35 on Opening Day of that season and could provide a versatile weapon for a contender's bullpen with his versatility and ability to go multiple innings.

Will any of those rumors catch Torres' ear?

"No, not at all," Torres said. "That's not something that a lot of people think about. Everything is hearsay. I don't read newspaper clippings, I don't listen to news. A lot of guys don't; there are some that do, obviously. You still have got to go out there and do your job."