Just yesterday I speculated that the Pirates may have disabled Zach Duke with a phantom injury as a way of taking his underwhelming performances out of the spotlight of a major-league rotation.
This morning, Dejan reports in the Post-Gazette that Salomon Torres has filed a grievance against the team and has demanded a trade because of an extended rehab stint:
“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.
This is not a new phenomenon. Teams will, at times, bend the rules of the disabled list. A 25th man will go down with a bruised ego for a couple of weeks so that the club can add to the active roster a player who better fits their current needs.
Case in point: On May 3, the Pirates disabled John Wasdin with a sprained thumb. He spent nearly two months on the DL while Dave Littlefield frantically searched for a more effective reliever. Time and again Humberto Cota has been shelved with minor tweaks and strains.
Nothing out of the ordinary there.
Salomon’s story, though, runs deeper than a simple abuse of the system. It is a microcosm of all that is wrong with the modern-day Pirates.
Without a doubt Torres is one of the most loyal players on the team, and rightfully so. The Pirates gave him a chance to get back into baseball, and he’s served them faithfully ever since.
When it came time to negotiate a new contract, Torres acted as his own agent—unheard of in the game today. He wasn’t worried about the almighty buck; he only wanted a fair wage for his services.
As Dejan writes,
… 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.”
So, to recap:
- Torres signed on the cheap after he believed the Pirates agreed to rent one of his Dominican development facilities
- The Pirates refused to take Salomon up on his offer, despite having a farm system barren of Latin talent
- The team then, according to Torres, attempted to unfairly lengthen his rehab process as a form of punishment for his filing a grievance with MLB
Petty, cheap and underhanded. Your Pittsburgh Pirates.
This is, after all, a player who is known for his service to the community. A player who for three years took the ball night in and night out as cog of the bullpen in an era where arms are treated ever so cautiously.
A player who pitched through pain this season knowing full well how important he was after the Pirates traded away their closer in the off-season.
Now, he’s had enough and wants out. Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors writes of Torres’ value on the market.
Can’t say I blame him.
Is there a trickle-down effect? Zach Duke asked for a second opinion on his elbow on Monday, and Sean Burnett made it known last week that he was unhappy with the way the Pirates were treating his return from surgery. If they’ll bend over Sully, is anyone safe?
Is management losing the already weak grip they had on this team?