March 2010

Win a Game Used Autographed Bat

Hey everyone! I am going to try something different in an effort to raise money for the Torii Hunter Project. I am going to do a series of raffles this season on my website and all the proceeds will go towards helping kids in need via the Torii Hunter Project. I am going to start with a game used autographed bat and if all goes well and we raise some good money I will do something bigger and better each month. 

Let me know what you want to see raffled off in the coming months. 
All the details can be found on my website at https://raffle.toriihunter.com/

Getting the feel back right on time

I’m getting there. I’ve broken some scar tissue in the area where I had my sports hernia surgery this winter. It happened when I was sliding on a double in our second Spring Training game. I was concerned at first, but Dr. Lewis Yocum told me it was the normal process. He also told me to be ready, because another time it’s going to pop, a loud one, and I’m going to feel it. But that’s part of the process of breaking that scar tissue.

I’ve been running first to third, no problem. You learn yourself in the spring, what you can do. Veterans like Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu, myself, we know how to bring our bodies along. In my 18 years in the game, this is the slowest it’s gone for me this spring, coming back from the surgery. Being a competitor, I want to be out there. But I’m playing a games, taking one off. Pretty soon, with the season coming, I’ll be playing four, five games in a row.

Friday in Maryvale against the Brewers and Sunday at home against the Mariners I had some great at-bats, and that was encouraging. I was getting back to 3-2 counts and coming through with two-strike hits. That’s when I know I’m seeing the ball well, getting my timing down, when I start working counts and get to 3-2.

It’s not about hitting home runs and all that stuff in the spring, especially for veteran guys. It’s more about timing. Bobby, Hideki, guys who have been around, they know what they’re doing. They’ll be ready. The last four or five spring games is when you want to see the ball, get some back spin, hit balls hard. It doesn’t matter if they’re caught as long as you hit them hard.

It’s better in Spring Training to hit a line-drive out than bloop one in for a hit. If I’m hitting .300 and don’t feel like myself, it doesn’t accomplish anything. If I’m hitting .250 but driving the ball and feeling comfortable, seeing the ball well, I’m good with that. Numbers and records don’t count in the spring. It’s all about how you feel, not what you do.

In April, of course, all that changes. You want every hit you can get, any way you get it. That’s when the real Angels will show up, ready to defend our AL West title.

It’s different when you’re a guy trying to make an impression, trying to make the ballclub. Then results count. It’s like Mike Ryan. He’s having a great spring, with the bat and in the field, but it doesn’t surprise me.

I’ve known him for a long time, going back to our days in Minnesota with the Twins. Mike’s been that guy his whole career who has come to Spring Training ready to go. He hits .300 in the spring with a couple home runs. He’s always pumped and ready to go.

Mike can play the infield or the outfield. He’s familiar with all those positions. He can flat-out hit. He’s always got a plan what to do up there, and he executes it. I don’t know how it’ll turn out, but if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, he’ll keep working in the Minors and be ready if he gets the call. He’s that kind of guy.

 

 

A hurtful, unfortunate episode

It’s important for me to set the record straight on quotes that were attributed to me in a national publication today. I took part recently in a roundtable discussion about the declining number of black players in professional baseball, a subject that’s been close to me my whole career.

I am hurt by how the comments attributed to me went off the track and misrepresented how I feel. My whole identity has been about bringing people together, from my neighborhood to the clubhouse. The point I was trying to make was that there is a difference between black players coming from American neighborhoods and players from Latin America. In the clubhouse, there is no difference at all. We’re all the same.

We all come from different places and backgrounds. Coming from Pine Bluff, Ark., my hometown, is no different than being a kid from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. We all share the common bond of a love of baseball, and it pulls us together on the field and in the clubhouse.

What troubles me most was the word “impostors” appearing in reference to Latin American players not being black players. It was the wrong word choice, and it definitely doesn’t accurately reflect how I feel and who I am.

What I meant was they’re not black players; they’re Latin American players. There is a difference culturally. But on the field, we’re all brothers, no matter where we come from, and that’s something I’ve always taken pride in: treating everybody the same, whether he’s a superstar or a young kid breaking into the game. Where he was born and raised makes no difference.

I’ve spent my whole career devoting time and resources to making the game more available to young kids in various communities. I love the game. It’s changed my whole life, given me a great life. And it’s important to me to spread the message to kids that the game can teach them so much and give them so much, even if they’re not one of the lucky ones who make it.

I was a football player as a kid. Football was my life where I grew up. But people like Scipio Spinks, who pitched in the Major Leagues and saw me play, and my grandfather were able to convince me that I could have a long career in baseball and not tear up my body. I am grateful I listened to them and followed this path. Now I’m dedicated to spreading the word to other young kids.

This is dear to my heart, which is why I’m so hurt that people might take it the wrong way. I’ll continue to do the things I’ve always done in trying to inspire as many young kids, in every community I can reach, to get involved in this great game.

I want kids from backgrounds like mine to understand that this road is open to them, and it’s a road that can bring them a lot of satisfaction and happiness.

 

Hangin’ out with the Globetrotters

I had a thrill on Friday night when I got to hang out with the Harlem Globetrotters for one of their games in Glendale, Arizona, in the Coyotes’ NHL arena.

I was actually on the floor for a while with my old buddy, LaTroy Hawkins, doing a routine with a basketball that the Trotters put together for us. LaTroy is pitching for the Brewers. We go way back to when I was 17, just getting started in baseball with the Twins. We were roommates back in 1993. So that was definitely a lot of fun, being part of our little act together.

Here I am, 34 years old, and I’m acting like I’m 10 around these guys. No matter how many times you’ve seen them – this was my fourth time in the past 10 years – they always crack you up. They contacted Tim Mead, the Angels’ PR man, and asked him if I could come out and do a skit with them. We invited them over to camp on Friday, and they entertained the guys before we went out to our workout.

Everybody had a great time, especially Bobby Abreu. He’s a part-owner of a basketball team in Venezuela, and they said they wanted to try out for Bobby’s team. Bobby’s got a great sense of humor, so he loved it.

I’ve always loved the Globetrotters. Being around them now, I have a whole new respect for what they do and the way they do it. These guys work out, eat right, keep themselves in great condition. You have to be in shape to travel the world and entertain people the way they do.

They’re on their way to England next and will be on the road for a month. Some of them have family in the Phoenix area, so they were enjoying that while they could before going back to work.

These guys are legends. They were in every household on TV, in cartoons.  It was these guys and Scooby Doo for me. They had their own cartoon show, and every Saturday we’d watch them. To have a chance to hang with them, talk to them and laugh with those guys, it’s really something special.

These guys are athletes, dancers, perfectionists. They take their job very seriously, and their job is to make people laugh – kids, middle-aged people, old folks. Everybody loves the Globetrotters.

Think about all the good will and joy they’ve spread over the world, and it’s awesome, really. I was looking around the arena and parents were cracking up right along with their kids. They had that old routine where one of the guys would run out carrying what everybody thought was confetti – but it turned out to be water, and he splashed some people.

Spring Training can get a little monotonous at times, going through drills day after day when you really want to just go out and play the game. But you have to prepare yourselves right to be ready – it’s part of the deal. Lucky for me, I got one of the best breaks in the routine you could possibly imagine when the Globetrotters invited me to be a part of their show.

It’s one of those things I’ll never forget. I wish all those guys the best in their travels.

 

Hangin out with the Globetrotters

I had a thrill on Friday night when I got to hang out with the Harlem Globetrotters for one of their games in Glendale, Arizona, in the Coyotes’ NHL arena.

I was actually on the floor for a while with my old buddy, LaTroy Hawkins, doing a routine with a basketball that the Trotters put together for us. LaTroy is pitching for the Brewers. We go way back to when I was 17, just getting started in baseball with the Twins. We were roommates back in 1993. So that was definitely a lot of fun, being part of our little act together.

Here I am, 34 years old, and I’m acting like I’m 10 around these guys. No matter how many times you’ve seen them – this was my fourth time in the past 10 years – they always crack you up. They contacted Tim Mead, the Angels’ PR man, and asked him if I could come out and do a skit with them. We invited them over to camp on Friday, and they entertained the guys before we went out to our workout.

Everybody had a great time, especially Bobby Abreu. He’s a part-owner of a basketball team in Venezuela, and they said they wanted to try out for Bobby’s team. Bobby’s got a great sense of humor, so he loved it.

I’ve always loved the Globetrotters. Being around them now, I have a whole new respect for what they do and the way they do it. These guys work out, eat right, keep themselves in great condition. You have to be in shape to travel the world and entertain people the way they do.

They’re on their way to England next and will be on the road for a month. Some of them have family in the Phoenix area, so they were enjoying that while they could before going back to work.

These guys are legends. They were in every household on TV, in cartoons.  It was these guys and Scooby Doo for me. They had their own cartoon show, and every Saturday we’d watch them. To have a chance to hang with them, talk to them and laugh with those guys, it’s really something special.

These guys are athletes, dancers, perfectionists. They take their job very seriously, and their job is to make people laugh – kids, middle-aged people, old folks. Everybody loves the Globetrotters.

Think about all the good will and joy they’ve spread over the world, and it’s awesome, really. I was looking around the arena and parents were cracking up right along with their kids. They had that old routine where one of the guys would run out carrying what everybody thought was confetti – but it turned out to be water, and he splashed some people.

Spring Training can get a little monotonous at times, going through drills day after day when you really want to just go out and play the game. But you have to prepare yourselves right to be ready – it’s part of the deal. Lucky for me, I got one of the best breaks in the routine you could possibly imagine when the Globetrotters invited me to be a part of their show.

It’s one of those things I’ll never forget. I wish all those guys the best in their travels.

 

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