Torres' dream was a heartbeat away
Daniel Torres was just starting to get the hang of being a professional baseball player. The catcher, a Saint Leo University product, was taken in the 20th round of the MLB draft by the Seattle Mariners and had gotten into a handful of games in the Arizona Rookie League. He expected to play the rest of the season with the AZL Mariners and was relaxing in his hotel room July 8, exactly one month after being drafted, when he got the call that changed that plan. "Our manager told me that I was going to Triple-A for a few days as an emergency guy because one of their catchers was having a baby," Torres said. "He had called me about an hour-and-a-half before I had to leave, so I kind of had to rush and get some clothes and pack my bags for a three-day trip."Torres said he packed his bags with a mix of excitement and nerves. After all, the call-up to the Tacoma Rainiers meant he was one step away from being a major-leaguer. Taking the next step would not only fulfill a dream he's had since picking up the game at age 5, but also make him only the fifth SLU product to make a major-league roster. The last was Jim Corsi, who played for five teams from 1988 to 1999. Joining Seattle would have deeper personal meaning for Torres, because that is where he saw his first MLB game. "It would be extremely special to play in the majors with the Mariners because that game that I saw I will never forget," Torres said. "Just to think about how little I was watching those guys play then, I want to be able to have the same impact on someone else as those players did on me." Torres played in one game during his Triple-A stint, catching one inning and getting one at-bat. "I actually wasn't nervous when I went to go catch, mainly nervous when I went to hit," Torres said. "I had warmed up some of the guys in the bullpen, and I think that helped my confidence knowing I could catch them when I went into the game." The hitting coach told Torres to be aggressive when he went to the plate. "So that's what I did and swung at the first pitch," Torres said. "It was a good pitch to hit, but I was a little late on it and did a swinging bunt, or basically hit it as far as a bunt on the third base side. The pitcher got it and ended up making a bad throw, so I got to second base and the runner that was on second scored." Torres soon returned to Arizona, where he has hit .261 in his first 15 games with seven runs, two doubles and an RBI. The trip to Triple-A has given him even more of a drive to make the majors while showing him where he needs to improve. "They said I was chosen to go to Triple-A because of all the hard work I had done up until that point and that I had earned getting to go, which was a good thing to hear because I try to work as hard as I can every time I go to the field," Torres said. "I will keep working just as hard to get there again and to the majors in the future." Tribune correspondent Kyle LoJacono can be reached at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @Kyle_LoJacono.