It is the professional athlete who first draws us to any sport. Pro-athletes focus our attention, magnify our excitement and serve as models for our aspirations.
In the big leagues, where players spend years searching for any possible advantage over their competition, choosing the appropriate athletic equipment can mean the difference between winning and losing.
We recently spoke with one of our favorite players – Chicago White Sox and 2010 MiLB All-Star pitcher Carlos Torres – to discuss his life, his game, and why he uses Vinci gloves. Here are some highlights of the interviews.
Vinci (V): Carlos, I want to congratulate you on your recent honors. (Carlos is just the 9th pitcher ever to be named AAA pitcher of the week 3 times in a single season.) I also want to thank you for taking time to answer our questions.
Torres (CT): De Nada.
V: We know that you were drafted by the White Sox organization in 2004 out of Kansas State but can you tell us a bit about the role that sports played in your childhood?
CT: To tell you the truth, I never really liked sports growing up; it was the competition that I craved. My father was my biggest influence. When he would get home from work, he would make time to teach me anything he could about sports. Drills and bullpens were usually our thing. That was really the only thing that was ours. In high school I wanted to stop playing a few times but never did because that was how my father and I shared feelings and emotions.
V: I’m sure a lot of folks in Chicago and Charlotte are happy that you stuck with it. Do you have any favorite baseball memories?
CT: All of little league if I have to say. It was one of the few times you played because it was fun and pure. My favorite baseball movie is The Sandlot. Just because those were the times where baseball was the best.
V: Cool. Let’s talk a little about gloves. How important is it for a pitcher at your level to have a high-quality glove?
CT: Gloves are as important to a pitcher as a bat is to a batter. They save you from getting hit by a ball every day. I grew up poor, so I had plastic gloves my whole life until college. They always ripped and the laces would break. Having quality makes you realize what you missed out on.
V: You currently use 3 models of Vinci gloves: a 12″ MV30 Custom Pro, VN75-L (also a 12”) do you have a favorite?
CT: I am partial to the MV30; it’s the first glove I pitched with in the major leagues. It is also the first glove I have ever put a finger in every slot and didn’t put two in the pinkie, like outfielders do. I usually do that because I want to feel a deeper pocket but with this model, I like the feel of its pocket. Also, the outfielder’s glove singlehandedly saved me 6 hits this year. It’s the size of an outfield glove but the same weight as a shortstop’s glove; that means you’re pretty good at fielding your position.
V: How many different brands of gloves have you used playing college and professional baseball?
CT: I went to 5 colleges in 4 years and every college had a different sponsor. And in professional ball, I had three other brands until I was introduced to Vinci by my homey for life (Chicago pitcher) Derek Rodriguez.
V: How do your Vinci gloves compare with the other brands you’ve used?
CT: Vinci has a better feel. Mass-producing makes you look for every corner you can cut to save money. Vinci doesn’t do that. They are quality and you feel it when you get it. I haven’t had a lace break yet. I have taken my gloves to the edge and am trying to find out how long it will take, but I haven’t done it yet and it has been 2 years. I keep tightening my gloves and not changing laces like you should, just to see how the glove holds up. And it does!
I haven’t run into another company who cares, like, literally cares, as much as Vinci. I have buddies with every glove you see and none of them ever receives what they asked for, or they can’t get a hold of their rep, or the glove takes too long to get there! I could make one phone call and I could have it the next day no question. Exactly what I ask for every time.
V: Vinci has always been about family so it’s nice to hear how instrumental your father was in your development as a player.
CT: I asked Pete Vinci for two favors. I asked him to put my daughter’s name on my glove and to put my father’s name on my glove. The two people who have impacted my life beyond everyone else, and he did. Those are people who care. Read the Vinci story and about Benjamin Vinci off of the website and you will realize how different this company is.
V: Well, thanks again for taking time to answer our questions. We wish you continued success in Chicago and Charlotte.
CT: I’m just happy to be pitching.
Carlos Torres has just been named to the 2010 International League All-Star Team as the starting pitcher for the second year in a row. The game will be nationally televised on July 14, 2010. Torres has used Vinci gloves since 2008. His first major league appearance was July 22, 2009 with the Chicago White Sox playing the Tampa Bay Rays where he pitched 6 strong innings to record a quality start. Torres continues to have one of the most decorated careers in AAA Charlotte Knights franchise history.