DETROIT Torii Hunter lined a single up the middle in the sixth inning Tuesday to register his 2,000th hit, becoming the 14th active player to reach that milestone.
Thats a big career accomplishment, and hes also on an impressive tear in his first week as a Tiger. Hunter has 14 hits in his first seven games and is batting .424.
Hes had six multihit games, joining Tigers Hall of Famers Ty Cobb (1919), Charlie Gehringer (1929) and Al Kaline (1955) as the only ones in club history to do that in the first seven games of a season.
He attributes the start to being comfortable. It seems as if Hunter, who goes out of his way to build relationships with teammates, has been a Tiger for years.
He said the front-office members, manager, coaches and teammates have made him feel at home. The fans at Comerica Park gave him a standing ovation when he stood on first base after the milestone hit. He doffed his batting helmet twice while waving to them.
"It's awesome, Hunter said. I've been playing with the Twins for all these years. When I came here, I still felt a little love and now that I'm herethey've seen me play, they've seen me grow as a player, all the Tigers fans.
"Even though I was with the Twins, they saw a young, 22-year-old Torii Hunter. They saw the 25-year-old, the 27-year-old, the 30-year-old. So, they saw me grow and play this game, and to get 2,000 hits, I'm thankful that they showed the support and the hand clap."
What do 2,000 hits mean to him?
It means Im getting older, said Hunter, 37, with a smile. No, its an honor. Ive always been known for my defense, and now I will be able to tell my grandsons: I got 2,000 hits in the majors top that, sucker.
Hes actually never been better than in his current stretch of success.
"If you go back (to the) second half last year, when I got back from my son's troubles, go look at it, Hunter said. I've been hitting good not just the last 14 games, (but) my last 70-80 games. So, I feel good. No matter who's hitting behind me, I feel great. But that always helps when you've got one of the best hitters in the game hitting behind you. I'm thankful to have him behind me."
He played his last five seasons for the Angels, and batted .360 from July 22 through the end of 2012. Albert Pujols hit behind him last year, and now hes got Miguel Cabrera coming up next. Thats some primo protection.
Hunters won nine Gold Gloves, and is putting up some special offensive numbers. It took him a little over six seasons to go from 1,000 to 2,000 hits. Six years from now, he will be 43. Is there any way he could reach 3,000?
Theres a chance, Hunter said. I feel good no aches or pains. But it depends on if I want to. To get 2,000 hits made me think about Pete Roses 4,000. How did he get 4,000 thats crazy?"
Two other milestones were reached in Detroits 7-3 win over the Blue Jays. Miguel Cabreras opposite-field, three-run homer made him the first to hit 100 homers at Comerica Park, and Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera singled for his 1,000th hit.