SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Andres Torres #56 of the San Francisco Giants walks back to the dugout after he scored to put the Giants ahead 4-2 in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
If Andres Torres hadn't finally treated his attention-deficit disorder with medication, there's a pretty good chance you would never have heard of him.
Well, it turns out he had a pretty good excuse for all those years in the minors. From Andrew Keh's piece in the Times:
In 2007, after nine middling seasons with four teams, Torres, just shy of 30, found himself back in the Tigers organization, still toiling in Class AA.
He began that year hitless in his first 30 at-bats and accepted that something would have to change. At the urging of Gene Roof, a minor league coordinator, Torres agreed to confront the diagnosis he had tried to ignore. Torres learned he had A.D.H.D. in 2002, but he used his prescribed medication for just a few days.
When Torres acquiesced to Roof’s advice, the difference in his play was stark. He finished the 2007 season with a .292 average. The next year, he batted .306 for the Chicago Cubs’ Class AAA team. And the year after that, when he signed with the Giants, he finally became, at 31, a regular in the major leagues.
Over three seasons with the Giants, he batted .252 with a .332 on-base percentage.
"With the medication, everything started clicking," said Torres, who was traded to the Mets this month. "From then on, it changed."
As you probably know, most (all?) medications used to treat attention-deficit disorders are prohibited by Major League Baseball's drug policy. As you also probably know, a) MLB grants exemptions given the proper documentation, and b) the exemptions are almost certainly abused. As Keh points out, last season 105 exemptions were granted for attention-deficit orders. There were nearly 1,200 players in the majors last season, which means roughly nine percent of them got an exemption. But it's really more than that, because a lot of the guys who got just a cup of coffee probably didn't bother with the exemption process. I would say that 10 percent is a good baseline figure.
Which seems like a lot. And given the amorphous nature of the (so-called) disorder, getting a doctor to prescribe Adderall probably isn't much harder than finding one to prescribe Viagra.
Which isn't to suggest that Andres Torres is scamming the system. I admire him for discussing the issue publicly, and I'm happy for his success. It's not so difficult to imagine struggling for years, as he did, and knowing there is something better inside you.
Somebody's making a documentary about Torres. It was supposed to be called "Gigante". That might not happen. But we're still pulling for the film. Sounds like a great story about a good guy.