Excited Torres believes he can help Mets

Excited Torres believes he can help Mets

Excited Torres believes he can help Mets
DALLAS -- Upon receiving word of his trade to New York earlier this week, outfielder Andres Torres thought immediately of his father, a lifelong Mets fan. He thought of his cousins and other relatives spread throughout New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut.

"I'm excited to go to New York," Torres said in a telephone interview. "I grew up in Puerto Rico, but I've got a lot of family there, too."

In that sense, Torres will already have a support system in place when he reports to Flushing for the first time. He also knows trainer Ray Ramirez, his former trainer in Puerto Rico; new reliever Ramon Ramirez, whom the Giants traded along with him; and Johan Santana.

It seems that Torres, one of baseball's most well-liked ambassadors, boasts friends throughout the game. He spent time earlier this autumn working on his swing in Puerto Rico with former Rangers slugger Juan Gonzalez following a down season that saw Torres hit just .221 with four homers for the Giants.

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In part because of those struggles, the Giants dealt Torres and Ramirez to the Mets this week in exchange for Angel Pagan, another center fielder coming off an underwhelming season. Wary of paying Pagan nearly $5 million through arbitration, the Mets instead traded him for the cheaper Torres while simultaneously upgrading their bullpen.

Which team ultimately wins the deal will depend largely upon how Torres stacks up with Pagan, who has historically been the superior offensive player. But Torres possesses a Major League skill set, too; in his breakout 2010 season, he hit .268 with 16 homers and 26 stolen bases, posting better on-base and slugging percentages than Pagan did during his own breakout campaign that summer.

Those skills, Torres believes, have not just disappeared.

"Last year, I battled a few injuries, but this year, I'm going to be ready," Torres said, referring to an Achilles strain that cost him much of April and a right leg contusion that knocked him out for another two weeks in August. "[The 2010 season] was big, we won the World Series and I had a big year. I was a big part of that. I know what I can do. I'm going to go strong, and I'm going to do my best out there."

Torres also lauded his Giants-turned-Mets teammate Ramirez, calling him "a great kid" who "works hard." And he expressed an eagerness to play in Citi Field, which should still boast expansive gaps despite recent renovations to shrink its dimensions. Torres ranked seventh in baseball in Ultimate Zone Rating (a rough cumulative measure of a player's defensive worth) last season, despite playing just 776 innings at the position.

Given that reputation as one of the game's elite defenders, the Mets have already penciled in Torres as their starting center fielder and leadoff man. The hope is that he can provide superior defense to Pagan without much drop-off on offense.

Torres, for his part, is certain he can do it.

"I know some fans maybe say, 'Oh, this guy didn't have a good season,'" he said. "But I'm going to go forward, and I'm going to work hard to do what I know I'm capable of doing. I can't wait to get there."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.