Rockies: Kidnapping brought Torrealba closer to son
AP Sports Writer
DENVER – Each afternoon, Yorvit Torrealba will sit by his locker and wait for his cell phone to ring, anxiously anticipating the voice on the other end grilling him with questions.
How did you do last night? What pitches did you hit? Did you call a good game?
Just hearing the sound of his 12-year-old son’s voice is the best part of the day for the Colorado Rockies catcher whose resurgence this season coincided with the Rockies’ return to the postseason.
Just knowing that his son is secure and attending school back in Miami puts Torrealba at ease.
He used to take a casual conversation with his boy, Yorvit Eduardo, for granted.
This spring, Torrealba’s son, brother-in-law and another relative were snatched by kidnappers in his native Venezuela, wanting a ransom of $500,000.
Torrealba left the team in Houston on June 2 to join his wife in Venezuela, listening surreptitiously as she negotiated with the kidnappers.
A day later, the abductors left them along a highway outside Caracas. They were rescued and Torrealba quickly moved his family to the United States.
Now, a missed call from his son makes his heart skip a beat.
The kidnappers haven’t been apprehended, no breaks have been made in the case he said.
That’s one of the reasons he moved his wife and son first to Colorado for the summer, then to Miami for the school year.
He doesn’t live his life in fear, yet he remains extremely cautious.
“Look, there are bad things out there. But you can’t go into your life worrying about that. It’s only going to make it worse,” Torrealba said. “I try to be positive for my family.”
These days when his son calls, Torrealba can’t help but beam. The questions his son comes up with always intrigue him.
When Torrealba’s two-run homer sparked Colorado to a 5-4 win over Philadelphia in Game 2 on Thursday, his son wanted every detail about his dad’s first long ball since May 6.
“He’s like, ‘You were due because it’s been so long since you hit one,'” Torrealba said, laughing. “Don’t get me wrong, I was talking to him when he was in Venezuela, too. But it just wasn’t as often.”
Torrealba won’t have to talk to his son by phone after Game 3 on Saturday night. The family is flying in for the game.
It will be just like old times for Torrealba, his son tagging along again at the ballpark.
Over the summer, Torrealba brought his son with him to virtually every home game. They would shag fly balls together in the outfield, warm up in the grass together, play catch together.
Yorvit Eduardo was like a little shadow, trailing his dad wherever he went.
Torrealba misses his shadow.
“It was definitely hard,” Torrealba said of his family moving to Florida. “But at the same time, I was happy that he was going to school, he’s going to get a good education. He’s going to be safe there.”
When Torrealba took time off to be with his family after the kidnapping, he was hitting .230. He quickly turned it around after his return, finishing the season at .291. He came up big for the Rockies in clutch situations down the stretch, knocking in 17 of his 31 RBIs in September.
He’s carried his torrid hitting into the postseason, going 3 for 6 against the Phillies.
“I’m more relaxed, waiting for the ball a little bit more,” Torrealba said. “I’m trying to stay in the middle of the field. It seems I get myself into trouble when I try to pull it.”
The Rockies don’t trot him out there for his hitting as much for his calming influence on the pitching staff.
“He’s going to let you decide what you’re going to do with your game,” ace Ubaldo Jimenez said. “He’s going to be with you the whole time, the whole way.”
And if a pitcher struggles, Torrealba takes the heat. Like when Jason Marquis was faltering late in the season, Torrealba was wondering if it was something he was doing.
“Whatever I put down was not working – that’s how I felt,” Torrealba said. “It’s my fault if I can’t go and get my starting pitcher through seven innings … They trust me because they know the pride I have. They know that I know what I’m doing back there.”
Back in Miami, his son is watching his every move, ready to ask him all sorts of questions.
“He wants me to go through what I did and how I did it,” Torrealba said. “He wants to learn.”
It’s a conversation Torrealba always makes time for, eager to pick up the phone.
“He feels he can call me every second, every minute,” Torrealba said. “That’s what he’s been doing. I love it. It’s great. Our relationship is now closer than it was before … I’m always going to have time for him.”