By Bianca Buono 3-6-2013
He’s not new to transition. After spending 15 seasons with the Minnesota Twins, Torii Hunter made a cross country move to the Angels. Fast forward to five years later. This year, Torii Hunter is in Detroit and he wants a championship.
“My personal goal is to win a World Series. All of the individual stuff, I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve had that. But I don’t have a ring,” he explained to WEBN Boston today in Florida. “So my job is to go out there everyday and grind, lift my teammates up, play the game the way I know how to play the game. And hopefully we get that World Series championship that I’ve been longing for.”
Hunter has indeed had many individual accolades, including four All-Star selections and nine Gold Glove Awards. But since his first major league appearance in 1997, Hunter still has yet to win a World Series.
The Detroit Tigers were American League champions last year and lost in the World Series to the San Francisco Giants. They came so close but something was missing. Hunter and a couple other new additions could be the solution.
Tigers’ relief pitcher Phil Coke seems to think so.
“We got a couple new pieces to the puzzle in Torii Hunter and we got Bruce Rondon, the young rookie. And then we got a couple different guys that are going to be background guys…Anytime you have a good core of guys followed up with a bunch of guys doing the backup you’re in a good situation. We’ve improved in the areas that were needing improving,” Coke told WEBN Boston in Florida today.
Although winning a championship is in the back of Hunter’s mind, he is just enjoying playing the game. He might be new to the team but he has already instilled a leadership presence among the clubhouse.
Hunter is a unique player in that he uses his outgoing and comical sense of humor to better his game.
“It relaxes me. It’s like quiet before the storm. For me, you know, I just kind of have fun, get everybody laughing and get them going, kind of clear their minds. If you’re nervous or anything like that, I want to make sure you’re not so I want to make you laugh and calm you down a little bit,” he said.
Baseball is unlike any other sport because failure is unavoidable. In fact, it happens more than success.
“Because the game is so negative, three out of 10 and you are a hero! Three out of 10 at your job, you’re fired! Three out of 10 at school and you’ve got an ‘F’. Three out of 10 in any other sport and you suck!” Hunter expressed. “But in baseball, you’re a hero and you’re hitting .300. It’s a failing game and you’re gonna fail.”
Hunter is a baseball veteran in the truest sense. He understands the game and how the game works. He has been able to share this knowledge with many of the younger players, including 22-year-old rookie Bruce Rondon.
37-year-old Hunter is at the point in his career where he uses spring training to work on the little things.
“Now that I’m a veteran and I’ve been around the game and I know I’m on the team, I can kind of work on my craft. Whether it’s my timing, getting my foot down, staying inside the ball, just looking at pitches…those last ten days at spring training, that’s when I really get my adrenaline flowing.”
Today, Hunter hit his first homerun for the Tigers against the Toronto Blue Jays. Detroit will open up the regular season on April 1st against the Minnesota Twins.