Wait, Tigers' Hunter didn't really kiss an alligator, did he?
MAR 05, 2014 2:13p ET
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The truth came out Tuesday. Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter said he didn't actually kiss the gator with its snout duct-taped shut in the photo that has become all the rage on Twitter.
Hunter said he just puckered at the reptile from nearby Gatorland.
"I didn't actually kiss it," Hunter told reporters. "I was just on the back side of it."
The camera angle made the pucker look like a smooch.
"What if he broke loose and it bit off my nose?" asked Hunter. "Noseless Torii."
He was egged on to do it by Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander.
"Verlander said, 'I dare you to kiss it,'" Hunter said. "His mouth was taped up, but I was scared as hell. I had never touched a gator. That was my fear, but I overcame it. I got close -- right in his face, touched him in the eyeballs and everything."
The gator caper took place during one of new Tigers manager Brad Ausmus' 9:30 a.m. team meetings designed to build camaraderie and issue some baseball instruction.
"Yes, it's my first alligator in the clubhouse," Ausmus said. "We 'business' them as well in these meetings, but we have some laughs."
Several players had the gator delivered to Miguel Cabrera in a FedEx box after visiting Gatorland, and he ran away from it in the clubhouse, shouting, "No! No!"
Max Scherzer, the 2013 Cy Young Award winner, doesn't know what all the fuss is about.
"I touched it," Scherzer said of the gator. "I'm not afraid of anything. I swim with sharks. I was around 15 eight-foot bull sharks. It was a Discovery Channel event. You do that and a little gator doesn't faze you."