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- Torii Hunter signed a one-year, $10.5 million deal with the Twins on Dec. 3.
- Hunter spent his first 11 major-league seasons with Minnesota.
- He declared Minnesota will be his last stop in his career.
Veteran outfielder Torii Hunter Signed a one-year, $10.5 million deal with his first team, the Minnesota Twins, on Dec. 3.
Hunter spent his first 11 seasons in the majors with the Twins, who plucked him in the first round of the 1993 MLB draft. During that stretch, he had seven Gold Glove Awards and two All-Star Game appearances for the American League. He amassed 192 home runs, 259 doubles and 126 stolen bases on a .271 batting average in his first tour of duty in Minnesota, Bollinger notes.
“This is where I needed to be. This is home for me. A lot of people might not agree, but the majority knows this is where I need to be at the end of my career to give back. But I can still play a little bit. I’ve got some bullets left.
“I’m not the guy that’s going to turn it around right away, but I really think this ballclub can do some things. I’m here and I’m here to win.
“I promise you, this is my last stop. I’m going to be with the Twins. I’m not playing with anybody else.”
Bollinger says Hunter will be the Twins’ starting right fielder next season, paving the way for Oswaldo Arcia’s move to left field. Hunter will provide Minnesota with power at right field, something former Twins outfielder Josh Willingham routinely did in three seasons with the team. Minnesota traded Willingham to the eventual American League champions Kansas City Royals on Aug. 11. He has since retired from the majors.
Aside from his ability to play right field, Hunter is also an invaluable locker-room presence who “is very familiar with new manager Paul Molitor,” per Bollinger. Hunter and Molitor were teammates in Minnesota’s 1997 and 1998 squads, although the former suited up in only a combined eight games during that span. The two were with the Twins in 2000 and 2001 when Molitor was their bench coach.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan lauded Hunter’s re-acquisition in Bollinger’s report:
“We’re looking for a guy with presence and the veteranship that he brings to an organization, not only on the field but off. We watched him grow as a young man into a veteran-type player that’s done a lot of good things not only for us, but for other organizations.
“We’ve got a young club here, we’ve got young position players. We brought Torii here not only to help them out but also because we believe he can be productive in his own right.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal III says Hunter looks like a player “in his prime offensively” despite being already 39 years old. Neal notes Hunter looks a lot like the player who left the Twins seven years ago to sign with the Los Angeles Angels.
Molitor is impressed at how Hunter has defied Father Time, per Neal:
“You can’t say it’s the same of every player. You either come or go at different rates. Torii has been a guy, at least to this point, who has defied what is the most common: The deterioration of skills as we get older.
“When you get older, it is a lot more overcoming the fact that you think you’re not supposed to be as good and it starts to translate in how you play. I don’t think he deals with that very much. I think he’s very confident about what he can still bring to the field.”
That definitely bodes well for the Minnesota Twins and their fans.
Hunter has amassed 2,327 hits, 331 home runs and 1,310 RBIs in 2,233 career regular-season games for the Twins, Angels and Detroit Tigers, per ESPN stats.