The signing of Mike Matheny to a three-year contract has once again relegated Torrealba to the backup role that he experienced under the antediluvian Benito Santiago and the flippant A.J. Pierzynski. As was the case before the 2004 season, he was prepared to be the starting catcher entering camp. But general manager Brian Sabean has twice gleaned free agents from the market instead of handing the reins of the pitching staff to The Little Cat.
After a brief cup of coffee with the Giants in 2001, Torrealba played in 53 games during 2002, hitting .279. Benito Santiago was aging. Torrealba was learning under the grizzled veteran’s tutelage. The future looked bright. But subsequent sub-par performances in which his average and OPS diminished caused management to hesitate making him the full time catcher.
This year, he reportedly asked for a trade when hearing of the Matheny deal. But he has resigned himself to producing when given the chance, to showing what he can do. He is a strong defensive catcher with a quick release, and his energy behind the dish has buoyed the Giants during certain swoons these past years. Not yet 27 years old, he has the ability to start at the major league level, and may prove lucrative at the July-31st deadline.
But The Little Cat has been a Giant his entire career, and he hopes to perform as one this season. He will spell Matheny during the grinding summer months, and at a grinding position like catcher, there is always a chance he may see more time. His overall role and future with the Giants will hinge on his offensive performance, and despite recent setbacks, the upside continues to look bright.
Tim Denevi is a raving Giants fan who can't decide if he would rather have Mike Aldrete or Marvin Biz-nard pinch-hitting with the game on the line. E-mail him with your opinion on any issue at firstname.lastname@example.org
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