From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Andres Torres is returning to the San Francisco Giants, who gave the outfielder his first chance as a regular two years ago.Torres signed a 2 million, one-year contract Thursday with the reigning World Series champions. He passed a physical to finalize the deal, the Giants said."Great to have him back!" manager Bruce Bochy wrote in a text message. "He gives us that much more versatility and character in the clubhouse. Everybody loves Andres as a teammate."Also on Thursday, the Giants reached a minor league deal with right-hander Chad Gaudin, familiar with the Bay Area after pitching for Oakland from 2006 through part of the 2008 season and again for a short stint in 2010. If Gaudin is placed on the 40-man roster, he would earn 750,000 while in the majors and 150,000 while in the minors. He also could make an additional 50,000 each for 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 games pitched in the big leagues.The 34-year-old Torres spent last season with the New York Mets following three years with the Giants. He hit .230 this year with three home runs, 35 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 132 games.Now, Torres gets to play alongside the man the Giants traded him to New York for: center fielder Angel Pagan.A fan favorite and strong clubhouse presence, Torres will play left field. The Giants still have Gregor Blanco there as well, giving Bochy plenty of options. Pagan last week received a 40 million, four-year contract.Bochy said Torres also will back up Pagan and right fielder Hunter Pence. Blanco, an impact player during the postseason who took over in left following Melky Cabrera's 50-game suspension in August, also is likely to get ample opportunities.As part of the deal negotiated by agents Sam and Seth Levinson, Torres can earn an additional 250,000 in performance bonuses: 50,000 each for 400, 425, 450, 475 and 500 plate appearances.The switch-hitting Torres was a key member of the Giants' 2010 World Series championship run. He was in the stands at AT&T Park this fall for a couple of postseason games to cheer on his old teammates as they won their second title in three years.Torres, who had toiled in the minors for more than a decade, became a regular in May 2010 as the center fielder and leadoff hitter. He batted .268 with 16 home runs and 63 RBIs in his first full big league season, then played through pain throughout the playoffs. He surprised the Giants and even himself with a rapid recovery to return from an emergency appendectomy late in the year to help San Francisco during the stretch run.Torres had the procedure Sept. 12, 2010, in San Diego and played again Sept. 24 -- missing all of 11 games. His fitness level and determination helped him return so quickly. Bochy had all but ruled out Torres for the remainder of the regular season.He then hit .276 with a home run and three RBIs in 15 postseason games. He hit four doubles and stole two bases.Torres also has been open about his struggles with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In 2007, he began taking medication for the condition and it has made a huge difference.He was recognized as the team's 2010 "Willie Mac" Award winner. The honor is named for Hall of Famer Willie McCovey and is voted on by the players, coaches and training staff to recognize the team's most inspirational player both on the field and in the clubhouse.Torres' plight to reach the majors after a modest upbringing in Puerto Rico and his struggles with ADHD were the subject of a documentary. He spent parts of 12 years in the minors -- eight of those at the Triple-A level -- before getting his shot.The 29-year-old Gaudin went 4-2 with a 4.54 ERA in 46 appearances last season with the Marlins.
The White Sox newfound brand of crisp, clean baseball is suiting Jose Quintana awfully well.
The 27-year-old left-hander pitched another gem Tuesday night, firing eight innings of one-run ball to propel the White Sox to a 4-1 win over the Boston Red Sox in front of 15,025 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Anchored by improved offensive and defensive support, Quintana lowered his season ERA to 1.40. But more jarring — in a positive way — is that in earning the win on Tuesday, Quintana for the first time in his career won three consecutive starts.
“It’s way better this year,” Quintana said. “The offense is, for me and for everybody, everybody tries to do his job. We’re off to a really good start and we believe this year is a good year for us, and we’ll try to do everything to stay in first place.”
Quintana’s posted consistently solid results since the White Sox plucked him from Double-A Birmingham to start in a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians four years ago. His decidedly-not-flashy-but-effective pitching style didn’t make headlines like his prolific teammate Chris Sale, but a 3.46 ERA and an unfairly poor win-loss record landed him on plenty of lists and social media takes focused on the most underrated or overlooked players in baseball.
That’s changed this year. Before his stellar start Tuesday, Quintana was given 8/1 odds by the sports betting website Bovada to win the American League Cy Young, the third-best of anyone (Sale led the way at 6/5). It’s still early, of course, but these six starts to begin the 2016 season stand is one of the best stretches he’s had in his career.
Manager Robin Ventura attributed Quintana’s ace-like success in part to pitching with a little less pressure than in the past.
“There is something to be said for going out there thinking if you give up one you’re going to lose,” Ventura said. “It’s been a few years for him. Right now (with) the feeling going on in there, he knows if he just pitches his game those guys are going to scratch out some runs for him.”
The White Sox continue to show signs of ending a head-scratching inability to support Quintana.
Jose Abreu’s first-inning RBI triple got the White Sox scoring started and his double in the eighth added two insurance runs (a Todd Frazier groundout in the third inning plated the White Sox other run). For the fifth time in six starts this season, Quintana was supported by four or more runs, and Adam Eaton and Austin Jackson made sparkling defensive plays to keep hard-hit balls from inflicting any damage.
Having the offense score four or more runs in 83 percent of Quintana’s starts seems unlikely — if he makes 32 starts this year, that’d mean he’d get that support in about 27 of those — but it is an improvement off the last few seasons. The White Sox scored three or fewer runs in 54 percent of Quintana’s starts from 2013-15, a span in which it’s worth noting the club also was rated as having the third-worst defense in baseball by DRS and UZR.
“There’s more of a confidence level of him knowing he doesn’t have to do an extraordinary thing — and he might do it, like tonight,” Ventura said. “But he doesn’t feel like he has to do it on his own.”
Quintana isn’t throwing harder this year and hasn’t added a new pitch or anything like that. But Ventura’s theory on why the Colombia native is pitching better makes sense — perhaps the next step in Quintana’s career was getting a good, reliable team playing behind him.
“He’s probably one of the best right now in the league,” first baseman Jose Abreu said through a translator.
That’s not hyperbole. Quintana has a top-10 ERA that’s backed up by a 2.12 FIP, which is a good indicator that his early-season success isn’t necessarily a small sample size-generated mirage.
Quintana is a shining example of how so much has gone right for the White Sox this season — even on the day in which the team announced it would eat over $11 million to cut ties with veteran left-hander John Danks. Not only is he pitching better, but everyone around him is playing better. And the combination of that, so far, has taken Quintana and the White Sox to another level.
“Everything changed,” Quintana said. “Everything is going in a good direction this year. We believe in that.”
The Cubs look to sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 11 a.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.
Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester (2-1, 1.83) vs. Juan Nicasio (3-2, 3.33)
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Erik Johnson gets the first chance at the No. 5 spot in the White Sox rotation, but the situation is hardly finalized.
The White Sox announced Tuesday that they would promote Johnson from Triple-A Charlotte in time to make Thursday’s start in place of John Danks, whom they will officially designated for assignment later this week. But just because Johnson gets the first start doesn’t mean he’s here for good, general manager Rick Hahn said.
Hahn and the White Sox have made it clear they want better production from the fifth spot, whether it's from an internal or an external option.
“It’s going to be a bit of a fluid situation,” Hahn said.
Hahn is comfortable with the team’s internal options at Charlotte beyond Johnson.
Miguel Gonzalez, who started last Monday in Toronto, has a solid major league track record. Then there’s Jacob Turner, who has 27 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings with a 3.04 ERA in five starts.
But Hahn also said the White Sox wouldn’t shy away from looking outside the farm system, either. Hahn declined to answer whether or not the White Sox would watch Tim Lincecum’s tryout Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz. before he noted the club has “scouts everywhere.”
The White Sox could also try and use their internal options to get by for several months before adding another pitcher ahead of the trade deadline.
No matter whom they turn to, the expectation is better results than the White Sox received from Danks, who was 0-4 with a 7.25 ER in four starts.
“Obviously, Erik starts on Thursday,” Hahn said. “After that, we may well make another move next week as we try to accomplish two things with that spot -- first and foremost, get greater production than we’ve been receiving thus far this year.”
“We do have a few internal options.
“If it does get to the point where we’re better off going outside the organization, obviously we’ve never been shy about doing that.”