Rays Winter Ball Recap: Alex Torres Makes Appearance for Zulia

By Robbie Knopf

Alex Torres would not be where he is today if not for the help of the Aguilas del Zulia. The Aguilas gave Torres a chance even after a disastrous season at Triple-A, and it was with them that Torres truly found himself as a pitcher again and spurred his 2013 breakout. Now it’s time for Torres to give back. It may be only a few games, but Torres has to feel good showing his gratitude for the team who he owes so much.

Dominican Winter League: Gigantes del Cibao 7, Leones del Escogido 6 (11 innings)

The two ex-Rays who appeared for Cibao did not have great games and Freddy Guzman played well for Escogido, but the Gigantes found a way to win after blowing a 6-1 lead. Sergio Espinosa struck out a batter and allowed a walk to begin his 5th inning relief appearance for Cibao before he forced a groundball off the bat of Jorge Polanco that seemed like a sure double play ball. Instead, an error was made behind him and everyone was safe, andboth runs came in to score. Then in the 9th, Ramon Ramirez tried to save the game, but a walk, a sac bunt, and Ramirez’s own error allowed the game-tying run to score, although Ramirez did work around another error by striking out Guzman to end the threat. Guzman had a nice game, going 2 for 5 with a triple, a double, a walk, and 2 runs scored. Funny how just talking about the ex-Rays can lead to a slice of the game that isn’t necessarily indicative of who won.

Mexican Pacific League: Tomateros de Culiacán 10, Naranjeros de Hermosillo 0

Jorge Cantu is still alive as he went 1 for 5 with an RBI in the win for the Tomateros. He’s hitting .200 in 4 games so for for Culiacán, althoguh he has collected a hit in three of the four games. Cantu hasn’t been in the big leagues since 2011 and he was out of affiliated ball in 2012, but he’s just 31 years old and isn’t done trying yet. Fun fact: Cantu’s 117 RBI in 2005 still rank second in Rays history for a single season behind only Carlos Pena in 2007.

Venezuelan Winter League: Tiburones de La Guaira 6, Aguilas del Zulia 2

Things a lot calmer for Alex Torres this winter as he takes the hill for the Aguilas del Zulia. Appearing in his first game since the end of the postseason, Torres went 3 innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 2 while walking 2. He was a little rusty and just taking it easy, and if he keeps pitching, we have to be sure he will only get better. Torres called it “a special day” entering the game and you know he wants to help Zulia win games if at all possible. It will be interesting to see how much the Rays let Torres pitch–he is at 111 innings pitched on the season after throwing 140.2 innings last year between the regular season and Winter Ball. Could the Rays stretch him out to leave their options open in spring training?