Pirates switch closers: Capps in, Torres out Print
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Friday, 01 June 2007 13:01
MLB Headline News

 PITTSBURGH (AP) -Salomon Torres' latest blown save cost him his job as the Pittsburgh Pirates' closer, with right-hander Matt Capps taking over the role Friday and Torres again becoming a setup reliever.
Manager Jim Tracy made the move after Torres couldn't hold a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning of a 4-2, 11-inning loss to the San Diego Padres on Thursday night - the third time Torres has given away a multirun lead in the ninth this season. Torres converted 12 of 16 save opportunities.
``If I was 14- or 15-of-16, we wouldn't be having this conversation,'' said Torres, a setup man to Mike Gonzalez last year before becoming the closer for the final six weeks of the season. ``The bottom line is I didn't do my job. I feel like I could have done better. It didn't happen for me.''
Torres became a closer relatively late in his career, at age 35, mostly off his late-season performance of last season - he converted 12 of his final 13 save chances. Gonzalez was 24-for-24 as the closer last season, but was sidelined from mid-August on with an elbow injury and was later dealt to Atlanta.
The right-handed Torres converted his first four save chances this season, struggled during a stretch in which he blew three saves in five opportunities, then went 6-for-6 before his blown save Thursday.
``We're going to be proactive with this, we're going to do it now and we're not going to wait,'' manager Jim Tracy said. ``The schedule and standings don't allow you to drag your feet for too long a time. We're going to take a shot and see where that takes us.''
Capps, 23, was primarily a closer in the minors before settling into a setup role with Pittsburgh two seasons ago. He went into Friday night's game against Los Angeles with a 2-2 record, a 3.07 ERA, 24 strikeouts and six walks in 29 1-3 innings. He was 0-for-1 in save situations.
``He has the mentality to be a closer,'' Tracy said. ``If you're going to beat Matt Capps, you have to do it with the bat because rarely do bases on balls enter into the equation.''
A season ago, Capps walked only 12 in 80 2-3 innings. Torres had nine walks in 24 innings this season.
``The bottom line is, whether you're going in the first, fifth or ninth, you've got to get people out without them putting anybody across,'' Capps said. ``I've got to do the same thing I've been doing, keep pounding the strike zone and see what happens.''
The Pirates have had problems all season getting a lead to Capps in the eighth inning and Torres in the ninth, with Jonah Bayliss, John Grabow, John Wasdin and Marty McLeary all pitching erratically in middle-innings roles.
Torres' strength is his durability - he led the majors with 94 appearances last season - and Tracy plans to use him to pitch more than one inning at times, and sometimes on consecutive days.
``His ability to bounce back is stronger than where Matty would be,'' Tracy said. ``Right now we do not and have not had anyone step forward to take that seventh inning and get you to your setup man and closer.''
Left-hander Damaso Marte (0-0, 1.00 ERA in 24 games), the Pirates' most dependable middle innings reliever, was unavailable for Friday night's game because of tightness in his left biceps.
 

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