Rays callup Torres shows more control

Alex Torres, above, who has demonstrated greater command this season at Triple-A Durham, gets the call as the Rays send David Price to the disabled list.
Alex Torres, above, who has demonstrated greater command this season at Triple-A Durham, gets the call as the Rays send David Price to the disabled list.
Published May 17, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Alex Torres was in his room watching TV around midnight Wednesday with his Triple-A Durham roommate, RHP Alex Colome, when he got the call he was headed for the big leagues.

Both had seen on Twitter that the Rays might need a pitcher because of the injury to LHP David Price, who was put on the disabled list Thursday with a left triceps strain, and it could be either one of them.

Torres, 25, was elated to be picked, joining the Rays on Thursday to help in the bullpen. In fact, when closer Fernando Rodney faltered in the ninth inning, he came in to get the final out of the 4-3 loss to Boston.

"I'm so happy," Torres said before the game.

Torres impressed the Rays with how he has bounced back from a disappointing 2012 season in Durham, when he posted a 7.30 ERA and walked 91 in 69 innings. Rays manager Joe Maddon believed Torres had the "stuff" to pitch in the American League East, he just had to improve his command.

Torres said the key has been confidence, and he garnered a lot of it during winter ball in Venezuela. He carried that over to Durham, where he was 2-2 with a 2.39 ERA in seven starts, with 49 strikeouts and just 14 walks.

"Last year I had all the pitches, but I didn't have that type of confidence," Torres said. "This year I can throw my slider, my changeup in any count."

Maddon said ever since Torres was acquired from the Angels in the Scott Kazmir trade in 2009, the Rays have tried to drive home the point that he had to learn to "throw strikes when he wanted to." Torres had a 3.38 ERA over four appearances with the Rays in 2011.

"This kid really wanted it," Maddon said. "And he's gone down, done a great job and is on the verge of becoming a major-league pitcher."

no worries: RHP Alex Cobb was caught by television cameras having an admittedly "intense" conversation in the dugout with Maddon in the seventh inning Thursday.

Cobb wouldn't elaborate on what it was about, other than it was related to "on-the-field" stuff and that the two are fine.

"That was nothing," Cobb said.

Cobb was adamant it had nothing to do with the fact he was pulled after 6 1/3 innings and just 92 pitches.

"If it was asked, I could have gone longer, but Joe's big on matchups, and it worked out great," Cobb said. "You don't second-guess things that worked out right."

Working on it: RHP Jeremy Hellickson said he hadn't seen too much of the critical comments Maddon made after his start Saturday, when he struggled to hold another lead. But after meeting Sunday, the two are on the same page.

"I know he was frustrated and wasn't happy," Hellickson said. "But neither was I."

Hellickson has a 9.95 ERA while pitching with the lead in his past four starts, but he doesn't believe he's that far off from turning it around. It's just a matter of taking a better approach in different situations and minimizing the damage.

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"I've felt like I've had some good outings, and then you see my line and it's terrible," he said. "I've just got to find a way to limit the big inning, and I haven't been able to do that, especially with the leads I've been spotted these last three or four starts."

second spot: DH Luke Scott started in the two-hole in the lineup for the first time in his career, and it worked out great, going 3-for-4 with a walk and RBI single. Maddon said they liked Scott there because of his previous success against Red Sox LHP Felix Doubront.

"He had a really nice night," Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: The Rockies designated former Rays INF Reid Brignac for assignment.