Andres Torres checked out the banner at the main entrance to Scottsdale Stadium blaring “2012 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS” and knew he was back in the right place.
The outgoing outfielder bounced through the clubhouse Tuesday morning, sporting a beanie for the cool Arizona desert weather after batting practice and some running. He offered handshakes and hugs as he said hello to all the familiar faces he missed spending one season away with the New York Mets following three in San Francisco.
Now, Torres will play alongside the guy the Giants traded him for last offseason: center fielder Angel Pagan.
San Francisco features a close-knit cast of Latino players, including World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, the re-signed Pagan, second baseman Marco Scutaro and outfielder Gregor Blanco. And Torres already fits right back in with that group.
“Oh, I’m really happy, so happy to be back,” said Torres, who will play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. “This is where I feel good. This is home for me. I’m excited to be back with the guys. I know Pagan, Blanco and Scutaro. It’s a great group. I’m ready to go.”
The Giants won another World Series crown last year while Torres was away, though he attended some playoff games at AT&T Park to cheer his former, and now current, club. Reliever Ramon Ramirez, another member of the 2010 title team who went to the Mets in that same swap, also is back after agreeing to a minor league deal with San Francisco last week.
The champion feeling is everywhere at the team’s spring training site. Several dozen fans lined the gate where players walk in for work. Boxes full of fresh T-shirts, pennants and hats were unloaded in the team store. Hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens sported a black T-shirt on Tuesday with orange writing that read “Kings Wear Rings” with an image of a sparkly championship ring.
Clearing the bases
Third baseman Scott Rolen has declined the Cincinnati Reds’ offer to attend spring training to compete for a reserve role. The seven-time All-Star has been limited each of the last three seasons by a chronic shoulder problem and back spasms. … Alex Rodriguez will not report to spring training with the New York Yankees’ position players and will work on his rehabilitation from hip surgery in New York. The third baseman is expected to be sidelined until at least the All-Star break following the Jan. 16 operation. Right-hander Mat Latos has agreed to an $11.5 million, two-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds, avoiding what would have been baseball’s first salary arbitration hearing of the year. … The Oakland Athletics and free agent left-hander Hideki Okajima have finalized a minor league contract after he passed a physical. Okajima played last season for Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan’s Pacific League, going 0-2 with a 0.94 ERA and nine saves in 56 relief appearances. … Didi Gregorius, considered Arizona’s shortstop of the future, has a right elbow injury that has prevented him from throwing or batting for the past month. An official said that the injury does not require surgery and that Gregorius should be able to begin light throwing and hitting off a tee in a couple of weeks.