Leyland to have Torii Hunter address AL All-Stars
Before the American League All-Stars took the field for batting practice Tuesday, Torii Hunter talked about the memorable pregame speeches that Ichiro Suzuki used to make at All-Star Games.
“Ichiro was funny, man,” Hunter said. “Every year he gave a little speech. It was pretty weird, can’t give you everything. It’ll be weird without him up here, but somebody’s going to have to step up and take that role, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a guy that’s going to make All-Stars for the next 10 years. We’ll see.”
Hunter had no idea when he said it that the guy to step up was going to be him. His manager, Jim Leyland, had already decided it.
“When the FOX crew comes in, I’m going to actually have Torii Hunter address the team,” Leyland told the Detroit area writers. “He’s a 17-year veteran, very well respected.”
FOX records the pregame speeches from the respective clubhouses for its pregame show. Leyland said he’ll talk with the All-Stars off camera, but mainly to address game issues like going over signs.
Leyland called Hunter an elder statesman, though Mariano Rivera has actually played more years in the big leagues. Hunter’s outgoing personality, however, arguably lends itself better to a team speech.
“I think it would be more attractive for the fans, maybe to see what a player has to say rather than an old manager saying this game means something,” Leyland said. “I think it’s good. Torii can express himself however he wants, and that’s what I want him to do. I just felt I think he’s the elder statesmen, a 17-year veteran, maybe just [talking about] what it means to him and what we’re trying to accomplish here.
“I just thought it was a good idea. In fact, I thought it was a brilliant idea.”
Hunter is making his fifth All-Star appearance, and his first since 2010. His fellow Major League players voted him onto the team as a reserve, a sign of how much respect he has around the game. With his 38th birthday coming up on Thursday, this could well be his last All-Star Game.
He isn’t likely to make the same type of speech that Ichiro made — those weren’t exactly clean for network television — but he’s likely to speak from the heart.