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. Good morning from Barry Bonds and Michael Bolton

    Mar 6, 2015, 6:41 AM EST

    Barry Bonds Glass

    Barry Bonds’ Instagram page is the gift that keeps on giving.

  2. Zack Wheeler on Bryce Harper: “We’re going to make it hard for him to get that ring”

    Mar 5, 2015, 11:01 PM EST

    Zack Wheeler AP AP

    Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is understandably confident about his team’s chances, but Zack Wheeler thinks the Mets can make things interesting.

  3. Garrett Richards ready to face hitters for first time since knee surgery

    Mar 5, 2015, 9:45 PM EST

    Garrett Richards AP AP

    Richards is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Saturday for the first time since knee surgery.

  4. Cliff Lee throws two scoreless innings in Grapefruit League debut

    Mar 5, 2015, 8:29 PM EST

    Cliff Lee AP AP

    It was his first game action since last July 31.

  5. Hector Olivera’s camp denies any damage to ulnar collateral ligament

    Mar 5, 2015, 7:33 PM EST

    Hector Olivera Getty Getty Images

    Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan hears that Cuban infielder Hector Olivera could have UCL damage in his elbow, but Olivera’s camp has strongly denied the report.

  6. UPDATE: Hunter Pence out 6-8 weeks with fracture in left forearm

    Mar 5, 2015, 7:07 PM EST

    Hunter Pence Getty Getty Images

    The Giants will likely be without Pence for the first month of the season.

  7. UPDATE: Orioles release Suk-min Yoon so he can return to Korea

    Mar 5, 2015, 6:13 PM EST

    suk-min yoon korea getty Getty Images

    He would then return to Korea, where the 28-year-old was a former MVP.

  8. MLBPA: leaks are from people “who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally”

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:20 PM EST

    Josh Hamilton Getty Getty Images

    Tony Clark adds that the leaks “are cowardly, undermine the integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate.”

  9. There was a big, big rock star at Tigers camp today

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:12 PM EST

    Joker

    He was bigger a few years ago, but he’s still a pretty big deal.

  10. Mike Minor to see Dr. James Andrews

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:46 PM EST

    Mike Minor AP

    He may be a nice man, but no one likes to pay a visit to Dr. Andrews.

  11. Yu Darvish leaves first spring start with arm tightness

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    Yu Darvish AP AP

    Darvish spent the final six weeks of last season on the disabled list.

  12. Phil Coke’s deal with Cubs worth at least $2.25 million if he makes the team

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:25 PM EST

    World Series Tigers Giants Baseball AP

    It’s a minor-league deal with major-league money attached.

  13. Alfredo Simon has some sweet wheels

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:52 PM EST

    Alfredo Simon Getty Images

    Chrome. No, not just the trim. The whole dang car is chrome.

  14. The Cardinals are boring

    Mar 5, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Lackey yawn AP

    Just ask them. They’ll tell you so.

  15. The Josh Hamilton decision could come as early as next week

    Mar 5, 2015, 11:39 AM EST

    Josh Hamilton Josh Hamilton

    The union and the league are butting heads, but the deadlock should soon be broken.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (3106)
  2. J. Hamilton (2780)
  3. D. Viciedo (2693)
  4. C. Gonzalez (2634)
  5. C. Sale (2472)