After weeks of anticipating the return of a veteran outfielder, reports started to leak out in the evening of December 2 that the Twins signed Torii Hunter to a one-year deal worth $10.5 million. It was a crazy day! Earlier in the day, news sources had indicated that Hunter was closing in on a deal with the Texas Rangers, which is Hunter’s home state. That never gained traction, even though Hunter’s wife supposedly wanted to stay in Texas. So with that, your newest Twins right fielder is, in fact, Torii Hunter!
During a re-introductory press conference December 3 at Target Field, Hunter, who will be wearing his old number 48, called the reunion a “no brainer” and he made it clear that he had some “bullets” left in him. Hunter said he always wanted to come back to the Twins and felt like he had to hold true to that statement. Hunter also said he admires General Manager Terry Ryan. Hunter will replace slugger Josh Willingham as the leader of the outfield. Ryan is excited about Hunter’s veteran leadership and what it will mean for this team.
Hunter, who comes back after seven years, knows that he has slowed down but doesn’t believe in the Ultimate Zoning Rating, which has Hunter as a “below-average defender.” Who cares about defense? What about his offensive capabilities? Last year with the Tigers, Hunter batted .286 with 83 RBIs and 17 dingers in 142 games! Hunter had a .295 batting average in two seasons with Detroit. So people, Hunter has the power, and if the outfield doesn’t work out, expect him to switch off the Designated Hitter duties with Kennys Vargas.
Hunter said if he feels good enough to play in 2016, he will continue playing with Minnesota. “I promise you, my last stop is with the Twins. I’m not playing anywhere else,” Hunter said. WELCOME HOME, TORII!
Written by: Michael L. Sack