ThunderBolts Insider: ‘Iron Man’ Mike Torres played in 339 straight games, then had to deal with an injury
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media August 24, 2014 9:48PM
ThunderBolts Mike Torres warms up wearing an alternate jersey to support Operation Lifesaver a program to help bring awareness to pedestrians and railroad safety. The jersey's were auctioned off during the game against the Frontier Greys at Standard Bank Stadium, Saturday, August 15th, 2014, in Crestwood. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 25, 2014 2:13AM
Nearly five full seasons into his Windy City ThunderBolts career, Mike Torres was faced with a new challenge.
While working his way back from a leg injury, Torres spent 10 straight games as the team’s designated hitter, a drastic change for a man who before the injury had played nearly every inning of over 300 straight games in the middle infield on his way to setting the Frontier League’s consecutive games played record at 339.
“I can’t sit still on the bench,” Torres said. “When we were home, I could go in the training room or take some swings in the tunnel. On the road, it was tougher. The relievers didn’t understand where I was coming from. Eventually, I figured out to sit between (hitting coach Pete Pirman and pitching coach Brian Smith). Talking the game with those guys was a lot of fun.”
Torres did receive some attempts at advice from the relievers.
“I’m used to sitting around just watching for the first four innings or so before starting to get loose,” Reese McGraw said. “Torres couldn’t handle sitting around. I told him ‘I’ll teach you how to do this.’”
Torres was recently honored for becoming the league’s ironman. His consecutive games streak finally ended July 29 and he missed four games before returning as the designated hitter. He’s now resumed playing in the field.
Before the team’s Aug. 16 game at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood, Torres was presented a framed T-Bolts jersey with the number 339 on the back.
“They caught me by surprise and I wasn’t expecting it, but this is great,” Torres said of the jersey. “It means a lot.”
Torres was especially moved by general manager Mike Lucas’ presentation of the jersey, when Lucas mentioned Torres had set the streak while playing every game as a T-Bolt.
“Doing it all here is really special,” Torres said. “Not too many people get to stay in one place, especially in indy ball. It’s a business and people move around a lot. I owe a lot to the management here for believing in me all these years.”
T-Bolts manager Ron Biga said it’s been a pleasure coaching Torres.
“I was the guy who originally signed him with Southern Illinois (he was traded to the T-Bolts before playing a game with the Miners),” Biga said. “It’s really nice to see how great a career he’s had and to see him break this consecutive games played record, it’s a heck of an accomplishment. It’s tough to play every day and he’s a guy who plays when he’s banged up and never complains.”
Torres turns 28 in January, but could return for his sixth season with Windy City in 2015 as the team’s veteran exception.
“I try not to think about it too much until after the season,” he said. “During the season, you’re too caught up in the emotions from the season. I love playing this game, though, and I’d love to continue to play as long as my body allows.”