Results tagged ‘ Torii Hunter ’
For the second time in July, Torii Hunter missed out on the cycle by one measly hit. Instead of a single, as he missed July 6, he needed a triple Wednesday. He very nearly got it.
Maybe he should have.
Hunter gave it his best shot in the seventh inning dropping a ball into fair territory near the right-field corner. With Alex Avila on the bases, however, third base coach Tom Brookens held him up at third base, something Hunter didn’t anticipate until he was already around second base and the throw was coming in.
Hunter was caught off second base, leaving him with a second double.
“I told the guys in the dugout, ‘If I hit the ball in the outfield, I’m running no matter what,'” Hunter said. “And I took off running, and I saw Avila slowing down at third. I was like, ‘Forget it. I’m going to keep going.’ I kept running and the non-selfish me just stopped, trying to go back. I should’ve just kept running until Avila had to take it on the chin.”
After the inning, Brookens was spotted in the dugout talking with Hunter. After the game, Brookens confirmed he wasn’t aware he had a chance to hit for the cycle.
“Had I realized, I probably would’ve sent Alex, knowing he would probably be out, but given him the chance,” Brookens said.
Avila, who apparently is dealing with a hip injury the Tigers had kept quiet until somebody spotted him hobbling during the game, said he would’ve done his best to score.
“I was running hard. I couldn’t go any faster than that,” Avila said. “I thought I got a good enough jump off the ball because I knew [Jayson] Werth wasn’t going to be able to catch it. I thought maybe I had a good enough jump where I was able to score, but as soon as I saw Brookie put the stop sign, as fast as I was going it’s not very hard to stop.”
Even on a play like that, though, Hunter could’ve still been credited with just a double if Avila had been thrown out at the plate.
Hunter has never hit for the cycle in the big leagues. He had one in the minors.
“That’s an individual goal, an individual achievement,” Hunter said. “A lot of guys aren’t looking for that. The guys in the dugout knew.”
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.
Miguel Cabrera is finally getting the respect he deserves in All-Star balloting. He not only has lapped his competition at third base on the American League ballot, he currently leads all AL players in votes.
The first balloting update, released Monday, shows how much Cabrera’s Triple Crown season in 2012 and record-setting pace in 2013 have vaulted him among the game’s biggest stars. Cabrera has 1,500,165 votes, double that of Baltimore’s Manny Machado among AL third basemen and about 265,000 more than Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano for the AL’s top vote-getter.
Cabrera’s lone All-Star start in his career came in 2010 as an injury replacement for Justin Morneau at first base. He has six other All-Star appearances as a reserve, including the last two seasons as a Tiger.
The only other Tiger in line to start as of Monday’s balloting update is Torii Hunter, third among AL outfielders with 761,937 votes. He holds a slim leads over Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz, while looking up at Angels sensation Mike Trout and Orioles center fielder Adam Jones.
Prince Fielder is at serious risk of losing his starting spot at first base thanks to Chris Davis’ amazing start and a strong showing by Orioles fans at the ballot box. Though Fielder topped the million-vote mark already at 1,059,300, he trails Davis by just under 117,000 votes.
The potential snub could be at shortstop, where Jhonny Peralta’s hot start earned him just a third-place showing behind Texas’ Elvis Andrus and O’s counterpart J.J. Hardy. However, shortstop is shaping up to be one of the tightest races on the AL ballot this year, with about 187,000 votes separating Peralta from Andrus’ leading total.
Omar Infante’s quietly strong season has him ranked fourth among AL second basemen with 417,333 votes. Victor Martinez, despite his slow start, ranks fifth among designated hitters with 340,967 votes, about 675,000 behind Boston’s David Ortiz.
Torii Hunter’s play as a Minnesota Twins outfielder early in his career earned him the title as a Tiger killer around these parts. After all these years, it’s now realistic for Detroit fans to consider the possibility of Hunter becoming a Tiger.
It might not take long to figure out, one way or the other.
The Tigers are interested in Hunter, as reported earlier Monday by CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler, and as has been expected since team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski laid out their needs for a corner outfielder two weeks ago. Between Detroit’s season-long struggles against left-handed pitching, its desire to become more athletic, its lack of a proven second hitter between Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera, and Delmon Young’s departure as a free agent taking away one of Detroit’s key right-handed hitters, the Tigers’ needs fit Hunter’s strengths.
Just as encouraging, there are signs the interest is mutual, and strong. Whether the Tigers should be considered the front-runners for Hunter, as MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden put it, is a matter of perception, one that could change if another of his suitors (Knobler mentioned Texas, while the Rays, Phillies and Red Sox have also been mentioned in reports for possible one-year offers) steps up in the coming days. But signs point towards a logical match between Hunter and Detroit.
Hunter, moreover, sounded like he already has a team or teams in mind.
“It’s going to be quick,” Hunter told MLB Network’s Hot Stove morning show with Harold Reynolds. “I’m not going to wait it out. I know who I want to play for.”
Hunter didn’t mention which teams, but he said he’s looking to win, not simply get paid.
“Everybody knows I want to win,” Hunter told MLB Network, “so whatever team’s out there that wants to win and can use me and let me be a part of it, that’s who I want to be playing with.”
Hunter just finished a five-year, $90 million contract with the Angels. He has plenty of money, and he has a son who just committed to a football scholarship at Notre Dame.
That said, it’s expected to take a multi-year deal to sign Hunter, a fact which impacts his market at age 37. If he were to settle on a one-year deal, his field expands.
It leaves the Tigers with an intriguing decision. Detroit has two highly regarded, right-handed hitting outfield prospects with postseason hero Avisail Garcia and Futures Game MVP Nick Castellanos. Both are expected to have a chance to compete for a job in Spring Training, possibly a timeshare with Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch in one corner outfield spot.
The other corner spot is open, and that’s where Hunter fits in. Add in Hunter’s clubhouse presence and track record of working with young outfielders — Mike Trout credited Hunter’s help as an impact on him during his Rookie of the Year interview Monday night on MLB Network — and he’s one potential signing that could improve two spots, not to mention his potential impact on center fielder Austin Jackson.
However, a two-year deal for Hunter likely would mean a longer wait for Castellanos or Garcia. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, an extra year or two of development, but it’s something the win-now Tigers have to weigh.