Hunter confident he'll continue to play after 2014
BOSTON -- When Torii Hunter signed with the Tigers in mid-November, there was some thought in the 38-year-old outfielder's mind that this would be it. He'd play out the two years in his contract, which pays him $26 million, and then call it a career after 18 seasons.
Asked Friday, prior to his team's American League Championship Series workout at Fenway Park, if he plans on retiring after the 2014 season, Hunter said: "Nope. I think I'm going to play five more years. I'm 28, man!"
The last part was a joke, and the media contingent laughed, but Hunter wants to stay with the Tigers a little longer and is certain that next season won't be his last in the big leagues.
"No, it won't be. It won't be," Hunter said. "I want to play past that contract."
And why not? In many ways, Hunter has defied the aging process. Over the last four years, he's averaged 148 games while transitioning into an above-average defensive right fielder. And over his last two years, he's had arguably his best offensive seasons while settling into the No. 2 spot for the Angels and Tigers, sporting a combined .308/.349/.459 slash line.
"Are you surprised?" Hunter playfully asked a reporter at Friday's media scrum. "I'm not surprised. You just look at family members. You look at my daddy -- 63, 64 years old, and he's point guard in city league basketball. That's pretty good."
Then he paused, brushed his fingers across his eyebrows and pretended to look in a mirror.
"I look good, I can't help it."
"I try to keep myself in shape," Hunter said. "I work out, I get myself prepared, I'm a lot smarter at the plate, I'm a lot smarter playing in the field. When you're younger, you just go out and you play, you go wild. But now I study, I look at percentages, I look at different things like that and prepare myself for the test so I won't fail. I eat right, I sprint, I still keep my fast-twitch muscles. I do everything I can to prepare myself for the game that day."