Torres files grievance, asks for trade

Reliever says Pirates 'tricked' him into agreeing to lower salary last year

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Reliever Salomon Torres, angry with the Pirates about what he feels was a broken promise in negotiating his most recent contract, has filed a grievance against the team and asked general manager Dave Littlefield to trade him.

"I've given everything I have to the team, to the city of Pittsburgh, and I would like nothing more than to be part of a championship there," Torres said by phone from Bradenton, Fla., where he is rehabilitating his right elbow. "But I've had enough. They tricked me into signing that contract, and what they are doing to me now is retaliation because I complained about it."

The "retaliation" to which Torres referred, as he explained, was what he feels is a slow schedule the team has mapped out for his current rehabilitation.

His larger issue with the Pirates, without question, is his perception at how Littlefield handled negotiations leading up to the two-year, $6.5 million contract extension signed in the spring of 2006.

Torres, who did not have an agent in those talks, contends that he agreed to less money than market value because Littlefield had strongly suggested -- though not in writing -- that the team would consider renting one of the two baseball academies Torres built in his native Dominican Republic.

"I liked the idea," Torres said. "I was thinking of it like deferred money, something I could have for later in life. They kept me interested enough. They made me believe. Dave told me he'd think about it, but that I'd have to sign at a hometown discount. I did that."

After signing that contract, then waiting for the Pirates for a few months, then having one last futile talk with Littlefield in November, Torres gave up and rented his second facility to the Texas Rangers late last year.

The Pirates' ownership and Littlefield toured the Dominican Republic this year, in late May, to examine the possibility of upgrading their facilities there. They did so without a visit to Torres' academies.

Torres quietly filed a grievance against the Pirates in March, through the Major League Baseball Players Association. No hearing date has been set because of a backlog of cases.

"Salomon has filed a grievance and, relative to the grievance, there really is nothing that I can discuss," Littlefield said. "All I can say on the issue is that we handled things professionally."

Torres said that, after the grievance was filed, Pirates management offered to insert additional bonus clauses into his existing contract. But that offer, Torres continued, was withdrawn after he lost his job as the team's closer to Matt Capps last month.

Torres said he has contacted a Downtown law firm and is exploring legal action against the Pirates.

The more immediate source of Torres' ire is the rehabilitation schedule mapped out by the Pirates for the strained elbow ligament that got him placed on the 15-day disabled list June 9.

He acknowledged the injury at the time, once describing the strain as "severe," but he also said he was told by management that he could return to the bullpen based on how he was feeling. Then, late last week, he was given a detailed rehabilitation schedule that left open the possibility he could be out until the end of July.

Torres threw a 53-pitch bullpen Sunday, including off-speed pitches that can cause stress on an elbow, and said he emerged pain-free. He is set to have another bullpen session today, 60-65 pitches, then make his first game appearance Thursday in the Gulf Coast League.

"I don't have a problem with the diagnosis or the treatments," Torres said. "But they told me it would be up to me to tell them when I felt good enough to come back. Now, all of a sudden, I hear about another month. I feel like I'm being blackballed from the team."

Littlefield said Torres' rehabilitation has been handled no differently than that of any player.

"Every rehab procedure is evaluated as time goes on, based partially on how the player feels," Littlefield said. "Obviously, we look at those things on a daily basis. There is input from the player on every schedule for every rehab."

Torres stressed that none of his differences with the Pirates extend to manager Jim Tracy, the coaching staff or his teammates.

"I love them all like brothers, and I want them to know that," Torres said. "If it happens that I stay with the Pirates, I'll pitch my best for the rest of my contract, then I'll retire. But right now ... I'm just tired of being treated like this. I'm tired of the lies. I gave this team everything. I bought a house in Pittsburgh to be part of the city. But, if you're going to lie to me, trade me."

Littlefield was asked if he or the team might harbor any ill will toward Torres as a result of his grievance or his going public with it.

"In the job of a general manager, there are always challenges here and there," Littlefield said. "But my main job is to get players who are productive for the Pirates. There's no grudge or anything like that."

Torres, 35, had retired from baseball for three years before Littlefield signed him to a minor-league contract in 2002. He pitched for the Pirates later that year and has been their most durable reliever since then.

He is making $2.7 million this season and will make $3.2 million next year. The extension included a 2009 club option worth $3.75 million with a $300,000 buyout.

Matt Freed, Post-Gazette
Reliever Salomon Torres said the Pirates "tricked" him.
Click photo for larger image.

Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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