Candid Torii holds court about making World Series
BOSTON -- With only three more wins to go, Torii Hunter is getting closer to his career-long dream of playing in the World Series. But other than playing right field and batting second for the Detroit Tigers most of the time, the 17-year big league veteran has been a team leader and spokesman since he arrived on a two-year deal last winter.
So who better to hold court for a media session prior to Game 2 of the American League Championship Series?
Hunkered down in the interview room on the mezzanine level of Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon, Hunter answered a vast array of questions, entertaining and educating the audience as always.
Hunter was asked how he chose the Tigers when free agency hit after his final year with the Angels in 2012, and he said he had noticed Detroit's talent while visiting Comerica Park last July.
"I hated facing those guys, because we had the battle with [starters Max] Scherzer and Anibal [Sanchez] and [Justin] Verlander and [Doug] Fister," Hunter said. "I looked at that rotation. I know in my past, all my failures in the postseason, that pitching and defense means a lot. The reason I probably failed in the past in the postseason is because we didn't have the pitching. The matchup wasn't there. We had the hitting, we didn't have the pitching. We had the defense, just didn't have the pitching.
"When you have Scherzer, Anibal and Verlander, I looked at that rotation this offseason, and said, 'Hey, this is where I want to be.' You look at Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez coming back from an injury, I thought the offense is pretty good. It's there. Jhonny Peralta is a free agent, whenever a guy is a free agent they step it up a lot.
"With me, I'm a veteran guy, I made my money. I'm about winning a World Series championship. I'm going to get paid what I'm going to get paid. Whatever the fair amount is, that's what it is. And that's what the Tigers did to me."
And now he'd like to do his part to give the team and the city what it hasn't had since 1984 and what he's never had.
"It's vital that I get there," Hunter said. "I see this all the time, guys jumping up and down on the field at the end of the season, during the World Series, at the end of the World Series, and I'm sitting on my couch and having a Coors Light, and you know, you're sitting there and you're seeing those guys. And you just kind of soak it in.
"That's the way you want to be. It's my dream. And I'm going to keep fighting and keep trying to get there to my dream and watching those guys on the field celebrate. I just try to imagine myself doing that."
Hunter first made the playoffs as a member of the Minnesota Twins in 2002. They lost in the ALCS to the Angels. They were knocked out by the Yankees in the AL Division Series in 2003 and '04 and by the A's in '06 before Hunter signed with the Angels prior to the 2008 season. While playing for Mike Scioscia's team, Hunter saw a first-round exit at the hands of the Red Sox in 2008 and a loss in the ALCS to the Yankees in '09. Now he's back, and he's got some wisdom to impart about the whole experience.
"A lot of the guys in the clubhouse are young, 22, 23, they think they're going to have an opportunity to do it later on," Hunter said. "But when you're young and you're playing in the postseason, I don't care if it's the National League or American League, you better cherish this moment, you might not get a chance to do it again. Cherish the moment right now."