|Torrealba provides an emotional spark for the Colorado Rockies|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 15 October 2007 12:12|
``They just come out,'' he said with a laugh.
Teammates love the easygoing Colorado catcher, whose tiebreaking, three-run homer against Arizona on Sunday night helped move the Rockies within one win of their first World Series appearance.
``As he goes, we go,'' reliever Brian Fuentes said. ``You can't say enough about Torre. If you make the big pitch, he'll come out with his fists pumping. He's great.''
Yet it took pain and sorrow for him to realize one important fact - this is just a game, so why not enjoy it?
``I've been through a lot of stuff,'' Torrealba said. ``A lot of stuff.''
Torrealba's wife, Milangela Alvarez, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003. He was trying to be supportive and at the same time establish himself as a major league catcher with the San Francisco Giants.
``That was so hard,'' said Torrealba, whose wife has been cancer free for the past four years. ``I was trying so hard.''
Soon after, he lost his grandmother, Aurelia Hernandez, to a heart attack. She was the person he would open up to, share his feelings. Torrealba frequently called her during his first year of instructional ball in Bellingham, Wash., just to hear her friendly voice.
``I couldn't speak the language, and going through normal minor league tough times,'' Torrealba said. ``I needed to talk and I didn't want to make worries for my mom. My grandmother just told me stuff to help make me feel better.''
Now, as he's making a run through the playoffs with the Rockies, he's wishing his family lived closer. Torrealba's wife and his 10-year-old son, Yorvit Eduardo, live in Venezuela so he can attend school there.
The plan is for them to come visit for the World Series, should the Rockies advance.
``I want them to be here,'' Torrealba said. ``You definitely want to have your family with you all the time.''
He said the distance has been hard.
``My son, he watches me play every day on television or on the computer,'' Torrealba said. ``He sees everything I do because he wants to be a catcher one day.''
In the meantime, the Rockies have become his surrogate family.
``With the group we have here, when there's hard things going on off the field, this is kind of a haven,'' pitcher Jeff Francis said. ``It's a break from all that and a joy to play on this team.''
Francis appreciates having Torrealba behind the plate. He brings a sense of calm.
``He knows when to kick you in the rear or give you a pat on the back,'' Francis said. ``That's his strength. You have confidence in whatever he calls.''
Reliever Ryan Speier can vouch for that. He was summoned in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the NLCS and was a little jittery.
Torrealba strolled out to the mound and gave Speier a little pep talk just before pinch-hitter Micah Owings - who's also a pitcher - stepped into the batter's box.
``I didn't know that much about Micah as a hitter,'' Speier said. ``I wanted to get a game plan.''
So Torrealba devised one on the spot.
``I just told him to throw it down the middle of the plate and let him hit it out of the ballpark if he wants to,'' Torrealba said with a mischievous grin. ``I said that because I didn't want him to be too fine.''
It worked. The talk calmed Speier down and he worked a perfect 11th inning for his first major league save.
``That's why he's great back there,'' Speier said. ``He calls a great game.''
And whatever he does at the plate is a bonus. Torrealba pumped his fists euphorically in the air as he rounded the bases following his sixth-inning home run Sunday, which gave Colorado a 4-1 lead.
``He's not going to hit .350 and 30 home runs in a season,'' Fuentes said. ``But he'll step up in big situations. He's been stepping up big for us.''
Torrealba is in his second season with Colorado. He was supposed to be the Rockies' primary catcher in 2006, but missed the first two months with a strained right shoulder. He hit just .247.
On top of his shoulder woes, he also was going through personal problems with his wife. The two separated briefly before getting back together.
``Last year was kind of a tough time,'' he said. ``It seemed like everything was all at the same time.''
But life is better now.
``I walk into the ballpark every day happy,'' Torrealba said.