Posted April 19, 2013 on AP on Fox
(Eds: Updates.) By JOE RESNICK Associated Press Torii Hunter wanted to end his playing career with the Los Angeles Angels. General manager Jerry Dipoto had other ideas, electing not to offer him a contract extension at age 37 after he batted .313 with 16 home runs and 92 RBIs in 2012. The Halos instead went after free agent and longtime Angels nemesis Josh Hamilton, signing the 2010 AL MVP to a five-year, $125 million deal in December - a month after Hunter inked a two-year, $26 million contract with Detroit. Through the first 14 games of the season, Hamilton was batting .200 with eight RBIs - one fewer than Hunter, who returned to Angel Stadium on Friday with the defending AL champion Tigers for a the start of a three-game series batting .413. ''It's good to be back home,'' Hunter said. ''This was home for five years. I've built relationships here, and that's something you can't take away. I mean, I'm here on business, but I do have love for the Angels fans and the Angels organization. ''I'm picking up right where I left off and carrying it over. Last year I hit pretty well in the second half, and I'm just doing the same thing now. I cut my swing down like I did last year and I'm making good contact.'' The four-time All-Star, who turns 38 on July 15, had been the face of the Angels' franchise along with Jered Weaver since signing a five-year, $90 million contract in November 2007. So his departure has been an adjustment period for everyone. ''It was tough, man, because everybody knew I wanted to stay,'' said Hunter, who entered this series two home runs shy of 300. ''I said publicly that I wanted to be here and hopefully get something done. But it just didn't work out, and I was told something totally different. But that's fine. That's the business side of baseball. I've been through it before. ''But there was no resentment. There was never that,'' he emphasized. ''I mean, I still love the fans here and my (former) teammates and the organization. I had a blast here. So, resent what?'' Hunter had spurned a three-year, $45 million offer from the Minnesota Twins, the team he began his big league career with in 1997, to come to Anaheim and join a club that was coming off its third division title in a four-year span. ''I grew up in Minnesota, I learned a lot about the game there, and that was my first group of fans. So I have a love for those guys there,'' Hunter said. ''But here, these guys adopted me and I've had some of the best years of my career here. It was a lot more fun - and a lot more sun. So it was definitely my favorite place.'' At the press conference announcing his arrival at the ''Big A,'' Hunter was so pumped up about the team's Rally Monkey mascot that he posed with a stuffed version of the white-haired capuchin monkey - and eventually got to pose on the field with a real-life one hanging on his neck. In Hunter's first season with the Angels, they won a franchise-record 100 games, and he had a career-best 23-game hitting streak. He batted .286 with 105 homers and 432 RBIs over his five seasons here, helping the Halos win back-to-back AL West titles in 2008 and 2009. ''Torii is obviously an extremely charismatic guy, and I think he is very unique,'' Angels slugger Mark Trumbo said. ''I haven't come across anyone else that mirrors his intensity and energy. But I also don't think it's fair to expect anyone to try and do that. He's a very special case. Hunter earned two of his nine consecutive Gold Gloves while with the Angels, putting together an errorless streak of 265 games. He also robbed opposing players of at least 35 home runs, according to the team, and passed that legacy on to protege Mike Trout - who did it four times last season en route to AL rookie of the year honors. ''Torii was a presence in the lockerroom and a presence on the team in anything he did, whether it was in the dugout, on the field,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''He was vocal, but also he brought great leadership. He mentored a lot of the young players who came into our clubhouse, and I'm sure he's doing much of the same over there.'' The younger players Hunter left behind in Anaheim, including Trout, Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos, are benefiting from the experiences they shared with him. '' He plays as hard as anybody, always looks to take the extra base and never quit in a game,'' Trumbo said. ''He'd be as angry as anyone after a loss, even if he had a good game. And that tells you pretty quick that he cares about the team. ''When I first got called up, I was fortunate enough to be in the locker next to him and he pointed out little things here and there - what do you look for against certain pitchers in certain situations. And as a young player, you would be dumb if you don't try and take that and apply that stuff to your own game.'' The Tigers are thrilled to have Hunter's leadership in their clubhouse, and just as happy they don't have to face him anymore. ''I was excited to get him because he's a friend of mine, and we've been friends for a while,'' Tigers ace Justin Verlander said. ''It's nice for me to have him in the lineup because it seems like him and I always had great battles. So it's nice not to have to waste 15 pitches on every one of his at-bats. ''We've always had a great clubhouse since I've been here, but it's always beneficial to bring in another great personality. The more guys you have like that, the more family atmosphere you have in the clubhouse.''
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Photos From Torii Hunter’s Return to Angel Stadium (4/19/13) By: Steve Granado (@SteveGranado)

This article has been read (0) times

Detroit Tigers Catcher Brayan Pena Takes One for the Team

When guys talk about 'taking one for the team' it can mean a whole host of things--none of them anything you want to do, but for the good of the team you are willing to suffer through, or take, whatever it is. Like Brayan Pena did in a marathon of a game Thursday night. The Tigers catcher caught the relay throw from Prince Fielder at the plate as Justin Smoak came barreling down...

Rick Porcello had one of the worst starts in baseball history on Saturday

Rick Porcello made history on Saturday, but not the kind he’ll want to be remembered for. The Detroit Tigers right-hander logged one of the worst starts in Major League Baseball history in a 10-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Porcello toe’d the slab in Anaheim for the Tigers, and lasted just two-thirds of an inning, but it was an incredibly long two-thirds of an inning....

Tigers-Angels Preview

Torii Hunter couldn't help the Los Angeles Angels advance to the World Series. The veteran outfielder is doing his best to help the defending AL champs get back there. Hunter returns to Anaheim for the first time since signing with the Detroit Tigers on Friday night when Los Angeles tries to avoid the franchise's worst 15-game start. In his first two seasons after spending...

Perfect Example Of How To Not Throw Out a Runner Stealing Second

Tigers pinch runner Andy Dirks attempted to steal second base on Tuesday night at Safeco during the ninth inning of the Mariners and Tigers game. The attempt was normal, but the best part was the throw that Mariners catcher Kelly Shoppach completely blew. Check out the attempt and try not to laugh. [Holdout Sports, House of the Bluebird] Article found on: Next Impulse Sports

Brayan Pena Endures Nasty Home Plate Collision With Justin Smoak in Final Play of 14-Inning Game (Video)

Brayan Pena knocked in the winning run for Detroit in the top of the 14th inning Wednesday night only to get knocked over in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, Dustin Ackley smacked a double into right field, and Justin Smoak didn’t hesitate to attempt to score the potential tying run from first. But Prince Fielder’s relay throw to Pena was on the money, and the 5-foot...

Game 2013.17: Tigers at Angels

After last night’s deflating loss, of a type we’ve seen before this season and would rather not see any more of, the Tigers send out RHP Rick Porcello against Angels RHP Garrett Richards. Porcello missed his last start due to an off-day shuffle type thing; instead, he turned in a perfect two innings in what I think was his first regular-season (at least) bullpen appearance ever...

Game 2013.16: Tigers at Angels

The Detroit Tigers (9-6) finish their one and only West Coast road trip, a successful one so far, by paying a visit to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (4-10) for a three-game series. Friday, April 19, 10:05 ET start Saturday, April 20, 3:05 ET start Sunday, April 21, 3:35 ET start Today’s starters: Current Angels have hit RHP Sanchez only slightly better than his overall average...

Valverde Impressive in Lakeland Debut

LAKELAND, FL -- Friday evening, former Detroit Tigers' closer Jose Valverde toed the slab for the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Signed to a minor-league contract on April 4th, the right-hander they call Papa Grande tossed a scoreless inning of relief, dialing his fastball up to the mid-90’s. What else did Valverde show?

Anatomy of two really bad starts

Rick Porcello of the Tigers and Philip Humber of the Houston Astros both made starts yesterday for their respective teams. To say that those starts did not go well is like saying that a glacier might move slowly. Between the two of them, they totaled one inning pitched. Combined, they gave up seventeen runs. Now that, folks, is a bad day. Let us start with Rick Porcello. Porcello...

Mariners Avoid Sweep, Silence Tigers 2-0

  WP: Capps (1-1)    LP: Verlander (2-2)   SV: Wilhelmsen (6) SEATTLE, Washington – The Tigers offense couldn’t get anything going, and Seattle took advantage of a frustrated Justin Verlander in the 7th inning to take the 3rd and final game of the series today in Seattle by a 2-0 score. Anyone who likes [...]

Get Your Wallets Out, Max Scherzer is Going to Get Pricey.

Tigers fans, you have been blessed by watching several of the growing stars in the game blossom before your eyes over the past several seasons. All of them have yet to get outside of team contract control. Some very tough decisions face the Tigers organization over the next several years. One of those decisions is Right Handed Pitcher Max Scherzer. You have seen him blossom into...

Tigers vs. Mariners Game 3 preview

Tigers vs. Mariners Game 3 Preview 12:40 game today. We all know Iwakuma has defeated Darvis, and Haren, and Weaver, but now he gets his crack at Verlander. Good times eh Mariners fans? Tigers RH Justin Verlander (2-1, 1.96 ERA) vs. Mariners RH Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0, 2.18) The Mariners liked what they’ve seen from Iwakuma. He has lasted at least six innings in all three...

40 Strikeouts in One Game? Are You Kidding Me?

Fantasy owners had to be going nuts over this game--that is if you had one of the pitchers in it. On Wednesday the pitching staffs for the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners combined for 40 strikeouts with both starters notching 12 a piece. Prince Fielder led the way with 9Ks in the three game series. Now it did take them 14 innings to set that mark, but 40 Ks between...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.