Siberian Baseball

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Torii Hunter doesn't have a gut

Just to piggyback a bit off the big media in the Twin Cities, Torii Hunter broke the constant drone of Kevin Garnett trade rumors yesterday with this interview on Dan Barreiro's show on KFAN - see how easy that is to give a little credit? And on the Internet, no less.

LaVelle E. Neal III from the Star-Tribune had this story this morning and broke it down nicely, but the door is definitely open for Hunter to return with a new contract next year. Whether the Twins pursue this now or at the end of the season is up to them, but Hunter's comments about his love of the team and the city should speak volumes to the fans who are starting to ask the "Will he or won't he?" questions about his future in Minneapolis.

Hunter went out and cranked two homers in today's game against the Blue Jays, so he seems to be just fine with the level of uncertainty about where he'll be next year.

It's worth noting that he mentions at the end of the interview that sooner is better than later for a deal, but from everything I've heard this season and last, Hunter would be willing to employ the hometown discount to stay in Minnesota.

There's something to be said for being the face of the franchise and as a friend at work pointed out, he was taken under Kirby Puckett's wing as a younger player and Puckett was a one-team player for his career. That continuity appears to be important to Hunter and he's made comments in the past about the differences between the Yankee clubhouse and others, so he's aware of the pulse around the league, which should work in Minnesota's favor.

These discussions were had last summer as well, with Hunter returning from injury and heating up for the playoff race and eventually playing a crucial role in the Twins' first-round exit in the fall. The Twins picked up the option on his contract after rumors of a trade to the Yankees in July and August and fans have been keeping an eye on him since Spring Training this year.

Honestly, if I'm the Twins I hold onto Hunter like the Cubs did with Ryne Sandberg and the Padres did with Tony Gwynn because at the very least, he provides a good example for the young players coming in. The big difference is the vocal presence that Hunter provides in the clubhouse as well.

From Hunter's reactions, he'd have no problem holding on to that same jersey for the rest of his career.

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