Angels: Built to win

ANAHEIM – It’s great to be back in our park, back home. We got everything accomplished we needed to do in Arizona, and now it’s time to get ready for the real thing. We’re looking forward to seeing the Twins on Monday, so we can get this show started.

I know there’s been a lot of attention focused on the guys we lost this winter – Chone Figgins, John Lackey, Vladimir Guerrero, Darren Oliver, Gary Matthews Jr. But that’s the way the game is. Guys move on, and you adapt. We’ve made some great additions, and I’m really excited with the team we’ve put together here.

Of course, it hurts losing teammates who were friends. A guy like Figgy, he was a respected man in the clubhouse, a leadoff guy who scored more than 100 runs and saved a lot of runs with his glove. He played the game right. But he got a great deal in Seattle, just like I got a great deal here. I’m happy for Figgy, but he’s on the other side now, and we’ll compete against each other with everything we’ve got.

I’ve got a ton of confidence in Erick Aybar taking over as the leadoff man. He’s a young guy with tremendous talent coming off a big year. And he can fly. He’s going to be fun to watch on the bases. With another year of experience with his mentor, Bobby Abreu, Aybar should be even better.

Bobby’s one of the best leaders in the game, and I’m so happy he’s back. You could see his influence last year in how much Aybar and Kendry Morales and so many other guys improved during the season. Bobby even helped out veterans like Figgy and me in a big way by showing us how to be more disciplined and selective at the plate. Everyone learned from watching Bobby and listening to him.

Lackey was a bulldog, one of the reasons I wanted to come here, but he got a great deal in Boston. We signed Joel Pineiro to replace Lackey in the rotation, and I’m impressed with Pineiro. You’ve got to like a guy who throws strikes and keeps the ball down. He should get real deep in games with our defense behind him.

With Pineiro, Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana and Scott Kazmir, we’ve got five solid starters, five guys who will give us a chance to win every night. We’re built to win with that rotation and with a deep bullpen. We’ve got some big arms out there, and this is Brian Fuentes’ second year in the American League. That always helps, getting that first year to figure things out.
Hideki Matsui is the guy I call the Quiet Assassin. He’s as clutch as they come, in a quiet way. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Hideki does in our lineup. He’s a pro, like Bobby, and you can never have enough of those guys.

Morales was born to hit. I call him Captain Caveman and Bam-Bam. He’s solid, strong and he always wants to use that stick and hit. And he’s good down at first with the glove.

Hitting behind Aybar and Bobby, and in front of Hideki, Morales, Juan Rivera, Howard Kendrick, Brandon Wood, Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis, Maicer Izturis. That’s a lot of talent, a load of weapons.

Brandon Wood, his thing is to play defense and do his part. Let us have the pressure. That’s why they’re paying us. We just want him to relax and play. He’s got it in him to hit at least 20 homers, with 70-plus RBIs. If he does that, he helps the team tremendously. The way he’s played third base, he’s been impressive.

Everybody knows what Izturis can do – pretty much whatever you need. He’s versatile and clutch, the kind of guy every winning team needs. Kendrick is going to do some really big damage this year. He’s my pick to click. I definitely feel he’s one day going to win that batting title, if he can just stay healthy.

With the kind of talent we have in front of me and behind me, I should be in a good position to drive in runs and score a lot of runs. All I have to do is stay on the field.

I was on my way to my best season ever when I messed up my groin crashing into walls last year. I really feel good now – once I broke the scar tissue sliding this spring, I was good to go. I don’t even think about the sports hernia surgery I had last winter anymore. I’m ready to get after it.

I think we’re built to win the division. There’s a reason why the Angels have won the AL West three years in a row and five of the past six. These guys know how to compete, how to win. I thought we had a great year last season, considering everything we went through losing Nick Adenhart. We’ll never forget Nick, what he meant to us.

This team has a lot of heart. Our mission this season is to take it all the way. We can’t wait to get started.



  1. inabog

    Couldn’t agree more with everything you said Torii, sad to see some great players go but we have put together an excellent squad. This year’s gonna be another great one, go Angels!!!

  2. angelloyalty

    This blog pretty much sums up what the angels are-tough competitors. This team will not rest till it get’s another world series under it’s belt. I really feel good about the enthusiasm this team has. I feel good about the chemestry. I feel good about the energetic vibe that is generated from this line up. I know good stuff is coming. I have tickets to Tuesday night’s game (April 6 against the Twins) out at the Big A, and can hardly sleep at nights while I’m counting the days until the game. I’m in my late 30’s and I feel like I’m 10 yrs. old again. This is really a great time to be an Angel’s fan. GO HALOS!!!!!

  3. jeffjoiner

    I can’t wait for Monday! 80 hours more. The rotation and bullpen are deeper than 08 and the offense has more pop. The team honestly has a serious shot to win EVERY night. See you all at the big A tonight, I’m not waiting.

  4. jeffjoiner

    I can’t wait for Monday! 80 hours more. The rotation and bullpen are deeper than 08 and the offense has more pop. The team honestly has a serious shot to win EVERY night. See you all at the big A tonight, I’m not waiting.

  5. carmine

    Good Luck Torri. Stay healthy and play like you’ve never played before. It’s baseball time again. Can’t wait to watch you guys. You will go all the way if you work hard and stay focused. PLAY WITH PASSION!!!

  6. angelsgirl012

    I always love your optimism Mr Hunter!

    I am disappointed with the players we lost (I miss Figgy and Vladdy already!) and I admit I was a very negative coming into the season. However I have faith that the club we have to date is strong enough to compete with the rest of the great teams in the league! I feel like the Angels really have to grind it out because of the great competition we have this year. Competition never hurt anyone, in fact I embrace it! It’s about time the west has some fierce competitors :D.

    I cant wait until the season starts!!! Although I am sad I am missing the Opening Day game 😦 I’ll be with the team in spirit! Go Get em!


    LOL hot damn Torii.. thanks for sharing those nicknames. My friends and I always get together to watch the games and we always try to keep good nicknames up for everyone

    Most noted:
    Howard “The Doctor” Kendrick
    Jered “The Dream” Weaver
    Brian “The Final Countdown” Fuentes

    keep up the great ball, love the entries.

    -Everyone on Palm St.

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