Skip to content

Torii Hunter: “we’re brainwashed to want to win”

Feb 28, 2014, 9:54 AM EST

Torii Hunter Getty Images

LAKELAND, FLORIDA — I made it into the Tigers’ clubhouse right as it opened this morning. It’s like most of the other spring training clubhouses. A bit more cramped than some because Joker Marchant is a bit older, but it’s the same scene you always see. At least physically. In terms of vibe it felt much looser than many I’ve been to.

Miguel Cabrera has a lot to do with that. Unlike a lot of megastars who are scarce when the clubhouse is open to the press, he was in front of his locker the entire time. He holds court over in his corner, mostly with the Latino players, but not exclusively. Indeed, there appears to be more racial/ethnic/rookie-veteran intermingling in the Tigers’ clubhouse than you often see. As it was Cabrera was loud and laughing and joking. At some point he and some other players started making random rooster/chicken/I have no idea sounds and it devolved into a game of some kind in which one of them took video of the others as they all tried to do the same thing. If I had remembered even a lick of my college Spanish I would have asked, but oh well. They all looked like they were having a ball and happy to be in each others’ company. Good chemistry? I dare not even suggest it.

I had a reunion with Torii Hunter, with whom I spoke in Tempe when he was with the Angels in 2011 and 2012. As always, Hunter was amiable and talkative. Indeed, if you’re holding a notepad anywhere near his locker he’ll just start talking to you without you asking him anything, which is highly unusual. But pleasant. I’m pretty sure that’s the reason why every baseball writer goes out of their way to praise Hunter. The guy could talk about how we should seriously consider forced euthanization of everyone over 50 and how we should outlaw ice cream and baseball writers would still talk about how great he is. I get why. He makes their jobs easier. We all like people who make our jobs easier.

Hunter and I talked about the politics of veterans taking long bus rides during spring training — he doesn’t have to do it and is just fine with that — the difference between Florida and Arizona — he much prefers Arizona, even if he likes being with the Tigers — and the thing that makes him wake up every day even after the grind of spring training starts to set in:

“I just want to win a championship. That’s what we all want,” Hunter said.

I asked him if, as many in the media like to say, a players’ “legacy” is somehow incomplete if they don’t get a ring. He considered that for a second and didn’t quite agree with it, but he did say “Ballplayers, we’re all brainwashed to win. We’re brainwashed to want that. That’s what we want.”

He feels he’s close. Joe Nathan came into the room and Hunter yelled across to him. After their conversation ended I asked Hunter if he helped recruit his old Twins’ teammate to Detroit this offseason. “Yeah, I did. I called him and told him,” Hunter said. By “told him” it was clear that he meant that he told them that Detroit is where he should come to win a World Series.

The Tigers are among the handful of teams who can seriously say they’re set up for that.

Latest Posts
  1. Chihiro Kaneko re-signs with Orix Buffaloes

    Dec 25, 2014, 3:05 PM EST

    kaneko getty Getty Images

    Japanese righty Chihiro Kaneko might have been one of the top starters on the open market this winter had he been posted by the Orix Buffaloes, his Nippon Professional Baseball team.

  2. 2015 Free Agent Tracker

    Dec 25, 2014, 1:23 PM EST

    Hanley Ramirez Hanley Ramirez

    Your one-stop shop for all of the offseason signings.

  3. Merry Christmas from HBT!

    Dec 25, 2014, 8:47 AM EST

    Screen Shot 2014-12-25 at 8.45.33 AM

    And a very special friend of HBT

  4. Tommy Lasorda reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

    Dec 24, 2014, 10:00 PM EST

    mlb video

    A good way to finish off our Christmas Eve coverage on HardballTalk …

  5. Kenta Maeda re-signs with the Hiroshima Carp

    Dec 24, 2014, 8:04 PM EST

    kenta maeda getty Getty Images

    The sought-after 26-year-old right-hander has now officially re-signed with the Hiroshima Carp for the 2015 season, according to the Japan Times.

  6. Rockies sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

    Dec 24, 2014, 6:17 PM EST

    roger bernadina getty Getty Images

    Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that the Rockies have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with outfielder Roger Bernadina.

  7. What baseball team did people from Bedford Falls root for?

    Dec 24, 2014, 4:21 PM EST

    IAWL

    A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town. Well, except for Mr. Potter. That guy is LOADED.

  8. The Braves and A.J. Pierzynski reach a one-year deal; first reported in a ham store

    Dec 24, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Ham

    No, really. The news broke on line at a Honeybaked Ham store.

  9. THE YEAR IN REVIEW: HBT’s most commented-upon stories of the year

    Dec 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    megaphone

    Based on these results, no, we will not stick to baseball. Because you clearly don’t want us to.

  10. Orioles re-sign Delmon Young

    Dec 24, 2014, 12:02 PM EST

    Delmon Young Getty Images

    Buck Showalter found a way to get value out of Young in a part-time role.

  11. “There’s a decent chance” the Rays will trade Ben Zobrist

    Dec 24, 2014, 11:16 AM EST

    Ben Zobrist AP

    Zobrist has been a regular for the Rays since 2008.

  12. The average major league salary is up to $3.8 million

    Dec 24, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    Money Bag

    Money don’t get everything it’s true. But what it don’t get, I can’t use

  13. The Yankees are treating Alex Rodriguez differently than they treated Derek Jeter. So what?

    Dec 24, 2014, 9:14 AM EST

    Jeter and A-Rod

    Dirty secret: baseball isn’t always about winning. Even when the Yankees are involved.

  14. Video: Nationals Park transforms into ice rink for next week’s 2015 Winter Classic

    Dec 23, 2014, 10:59 PM EST

    2015 winter classic logo

    “NHL Live” on NBC Sports Network ended a segment Tuesday night with this time-lapse video of Nationals Park being converted from a baseball field into an ice rink for next week’s 2015 NHL Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and visiting Chicago Blackhawks …

  15. Padres ink Brett Wallace to minor league contract

    Dec 23, 2014, 9:44 PM EST

    brett wallace getty Getty Images

    As first reported by Matt Eddy of Baseball America, the Padres have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with first baseman Brett Wallace. The deal comes with an invitation to …

  16. Braves sign setup man Jason Grilli to two-year contract

    Dec 23, 2014, 8:31 PM EST

    jason grilli getty Getty Images

    From FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal comes word that the Braves have signed 38-year-old right-handed reliever Jason Grilli to a two-year, $8 million contract with a club option for 2017 …

  17. Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada expected to begin private workouts within two weeks

    Dec 23, 2014, 7:58 PM EST

    cuba hat

    19-year-old infield prospect Yoan Moncada defected from his native Cuba over the summer and was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball back in mid-November, but he is still waiting for official clearance from the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) …

  18. Cubs announce two-year, $5 million deal with David Ross

    Dec 23, 2014, 6:23 PM EST

    david ross

    FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was first to report that a deal was in place between the Cubs and veteran catcher David Ross, and now that agreement has been made official …

  19. Twins sign Tim Stauffer for $2.2 million

    Dec 23, 2014, 5:17 PM EST

    Tim Stauffer Getty Getty Images

    Minnesota adds a right-handed reliever.

Featured video

Cubs shore up rotation with Jon Lester
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. W. Myers (3301)
  2. J. Kang (3132)
  3. C. McGehee (2847)
  4. J. Upton (2832)
  5. W. Middlebrooks (2825)
  1. D. Ross (2646)
  2. T. Tulowitzki (2404)
  3. J. Shields (1926)
  4. D. Haren (1889)
  5. M. Kemp (1868)