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Angels' Torii Hunter warms up in the outfield before a game. He has won 10 Gold Gloves in centerfield, but he has been moved to right field. (Photo by Jeff Lewis)
By Tamara LattaSentinel Sports Writer
After playing center field for nearly 10 years, Torii Hunter has been asked to slide over and play right field, at least for the remaining of the season. He has racked up nine Gold Gloves in center field, but wants to do whatever he can to help his team win games. Hunter is such a positive person that no matter what challenge he's put through, winning is his number one priority.
"All I care about is winning, I need a ring", admitted Hunter. I've been to the playoffs seven times but never made it to the World Series. If this makes the team better, I'm going to do it."
Hunter was replaced in center field by Peter Bourjos, who made his Major League debut on August 4th. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia wanted to make defensive changes hoping to improve the team's presentation in outfield. He reassured everyone that his decision to move Hunter over had nothing to do with his performance in center field.
As we all know, Hunter is the face of the Angels and I'm sure the decision was very hard to endure, but he put his pride aside and took his new position with dignity. His passion for the game is astonishing. I have never interviewed any other MLB player who wants it as bad as this guy. He took the back seat to give his team a chance. This is what you call selfless. I really want to see him win a ring before he leaves the game.
One thing about Hunter is that he's far from being a selfish player. He's a team guy and will make sacrifices, if that means helping this ball club win games. This is the kind of leadership every team needs in their locker room. I honestly believe the Angels' confidence and motivation comes from Hunter.
Hunter repeatedly emphasized that there is plenty of baseball left and his teammates seems to feed off very well off of it. With the playoffs just around the corner, Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick thinks the division is up in the air and any team can come and take it. The vibe in that locker room remains cool, calm and collective.
"Right now we're about eight games behind Texas in the AL East race," Kendrick said. "But don't count us out, we still have time to make a run, anything can happen in baseball".
After being in right field for two weeks, I finally made it down to Anaheim to watch Hunter in his new home. He looked relaxed and comfortable. I will have to admit that he did look a little bored in right field. But I did get to witness his first tough catch Saturday night in right field. When I spoke with Hunter after the game he seemed like he was in high spirits. This guy is most definitely a class act and the Angels are very lucky to have him on their roster. I'll be cheering for him, he deserves every diamond in that championship ring.