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Torii Hunter is willing to take a reduced role going forward

Jun 24, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

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Torii Hunter is having his worst offensive season in over a decade and his defense is getting to be damn nigh intolerable. He now has a tight hamstring that has kept him out of action for he past eight days. J.D. Martinez, his replacement in right field, was just named the A.L. Player of the Week.

The writing is, therefore, on the wall. And Torii Hunter is reading it. From Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press, who writes about what will happen now that it appears Hunter is poised to come back to action:

“I will do whatever is best for the team. We’re back to hitting the right groove right now, firing on all cylinders. If that means I have to split time in the field — if that’s in the best interest to help us win — then I’m fine with that. When you get to this point in your career, it becomes a lot easier figuring out what’s most important to you. I want to win.”

When it comes to on-the-field stuff at least, Hunter has always said and done the right things. He moved off of center field in Anaheim when it was clear the Peter Bourjos was better than him defensively. He does not have a history of complaining about where he hits in the lineup or plays in the field. Of course, until this year he hasn’t been faced with a lot of those situations given that he’s been one of the more productive and durable outfielders in all of baseball.

But now things are different. Hunter turns 39 next month and it’s likely that this year’s dip in performance is the new normal, not some temporary slump. He can certainly still be useful to a contender like the Tigers, but Brad Ausmus will have to give him rest and pick his spots in which to play him. Maybe way more against lefties, for example.

Interesting times for a guy who, as recently as last year, was still putting up pretty darn good numbers. Now we’ll see how he takes to a reduced role.

  1. asimonetti88 - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    Father Time is still undefeated.

  2. moogro - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    Definitely Hall of Fun.

    • strictlythedanks - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:41 PM

      One helluva twin

      • damer419 - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        One helluva Angel too!

        Safe to say both those towns and teams are better because he spent time there. Heck of a guy – there should be more like him – I would love to see him get a ring!!!!

  3. hardkor07mn - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:48 PM

    Torii has and always will be one of the classiest players in the game. More of the young players should take note of how he conducts himself on and off the field.

    • whatacrocker - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:53 PM

      This would be the same Torii Hunter who is an avowed homophobe? The same Torii Hunter who insisted that black Latinos aren’t “truly” black? The same Torii Hunter who blasted the Angels on his way out the door, because they moved his salary in an (unsuccessful) effort to re-sign Zack Greinke?

      Yeah, that’s EXACTLY the kind of person young players should emulate. Very classy, indeed.

    • whatacrocker - Jun 24, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      Also, let’s not forget that Hunter has been involved in multiple fistfights with his OWN teammates, among them Justin Morneau and Albert Pujols.

    • randomjoeblow - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:42 PM

      Well, he does smile a lot, so I think that makes him classy..

  4. rbj1 - Jun 24, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    Only signed through this year. Probably his best bet for next year is a non roster invitee. But he’s made $160 million.

  5. pwshrugged - Jun 24, 2014 at 7:31 PM

    Torii wants a ring. To his credit, he can set aside pride and realize that he might not be the best option everyday anymore. Good for him. However, the Detroit media are jumping to conclusions – right now, J.D. Martinez is on the tear of his career. One week does not a season make. I’d love to see the guy keep it up, but until he proves he can, there’s no sense in acting like the Tigers’ outfield is close to settled.

    That said, Torii looks ready to start a coaching career. Half the shots I see of the Tigers dugout have him sitting right next to Ausmus, and they’re chatting as often as not.

  6. J. Robert Hanson - Jun 25, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Has Torii finally reached his shelf life? Mortality happens.

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