Skip to content

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

Feb 28, 2014, 9:54 AM EDT

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. Giants pull off a victory-by-committee

    Oct 26, 2014, 1:05 AM EDT

    Some quick notes from Saturday’s Game 4.

  2. Giants rout Royals 11-4 in Game 4 to even up the World Series at 2-2

    Oct 26, 2014, 12:09 AM EDT

    2014 World Series Game 4: Kansas City Royals v. San Francisco Giants 2014 World Series Game 4: Kansas City Royals v. San Francisco Giants

    The Giants scored 10 unanswered runs against the Royals en route to an 11-4 win in Game 4 of the World Series. The series is now tied at 2-2 going into Sunday’s Game 5.

  3. Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt come through to put Giants up 7-4 going into the seventh

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT

    Pablo Sandoval Pablo Sandoval

    Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt came through for the Giants in the bottom of the sixth to put the Giants up 7-4 over the Royals going into the seventh inning.

  4. Giants fight back to tie Game 4 of the World Series at 4-4

    Oct 25, 2014, 10:39 PM EDT

    Hunter Pence Hunter Pence

    The Giants rallied against Jason Vargas and the Royals’ bullpen to tie Game 4 of the World Series at 4-4.

  5. Joe Maddon prepared to sit out the 2015 season to find the right opportunity

    Oct 25, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT

    Joe Maddon Joe Maddon

    Joe Maddon may not manage in 2015 as he wants to wait for the right opportunity to take over a new team.

  6. Royals bat around in the third inning, take a 4-1 lead against the Giants

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    The Royals rallied and now lead the Giants 4-1 in Game 4 of the World Series.

  7. Report: Montreal will host spring training games in 2015

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 9.24.43 AM AP

    Montreal will host some more spring training games next year with the Blue Jays taking on the Reds.

  8. Giants leading Royals 1-0 early in Game 4 of the World Series

    Oct 25, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    Gregor Blanco Gregor Blanco

    The Giants took a 1-0 lead over the Royals in the first inning thanks to Gregor Blanco’s speed.

  9. Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton win the Hank Aaron Award

    Oct 25, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    Mike Trout Mike Trout

    Mike Trout and Giancarlo Stanton are your winners of the 2014 Hank Aaron Award.

  10. Bruce Bochy sticking with Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson for World Series Games 6 and 7

    Oct 25, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed that Jake Peavy will start Game 6 and Tim Hudson will start Game 7 if the World Series extends that far.

  11. Mo’ne Davis to throw out the first pitch before World Series Game 4

    Oct 25, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT

    mo'ne davis getty Getty Images

    Mo’ne Davis will throw out the first pitch before the start of Game 4 of the World Series between the Royals and Giants on Saturday night.

  12. Mets reliever Jeurys Familia undergoes hernia surgery

    Oct 25, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Jeurys Familia Getty Getty Images

    This is the second hernia surgery in the back-end of the Mets’ bullpen since the end of the season, as closer Jenrry Mejia had his earlier this month.

  13. World Series, Game 4: Royals vs. Giants lineups

    Oct 25, 2014, 4:32 PM EDT

    Ryan Vogelsong AP AP

    Jason Vargas vs. Ryan Vogelsong.

  14. David Wright says rehab from shoulder injury is going well

    Oct 25, 2014, 3:29 PM EDT

    David Wright AP AP

    Wright is expected to be re-evaluated in a couple of weeks and hopes to avoid surgery.

  15. Report: Rays owner Stuart Sternberg has discussed moving the team to Montreal

    Oct 25, 2014, 2:27 PM EDT

    tropicana field getty Getty Images

    Sternberg has reportedly had discussions “with wealthy Wall Street associates” about moving the Rays to Montreal.

  16. Pirates acquire Justin Sellers from Indians

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:29 PM EDT

    Justin Sellers Getty Getty Images

    The Pirates also designated right-handers John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez for assignment.

  17. Dave Dombrowski on Miguel Cabrera: “It’s worse than what we ever would have anticipated”

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

    Miguel Cabrera AP AP

    We learned yesterday that Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera underwent surgery on Wednesday to remove bone spurs from his right ankle and repair a stress fracture to the navicular bone in his foot. Everyone was caught off guard by the extent of his injuries.

Featured video

When home-field advantage isn't so
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. T. Lincecum (3128)
  2. M. Morse (2614)
  3. M. Bumgarner (2578)
  4. J. Shields (2034)
  5. H. Pence (1767)
  1. Y. Cespedes (1682)
  2. A. Escobar (1602)
  3. A. Wainwright (1593)
  4. L. Cain (1553)
  5. B. Butler (1552)