Torii Hunter knew Thursday afternoon might be the last time he played a home game in an Angels uniform. That’s why he allowed himself one long look into the stands at Angels Stadium, so he could lock in the memory.
But it’s possible he might be coming back. Who says so? Arte Moreno, the team’s owner.
“I tell you what, if we don’t figure out a way to re-sign him, we’re going to get hung, aren’t we?” Moreno said in an interview with KLAA-AM 830, the Angels’ flagship station, on Thursday.
Hunter is having arguably his best season since joining the Angels in 2008 after nine years with the Minnesota Twins. He’s hitting .340 since the All-Star break, is hitting .306 overall and is batting .342 with runners in scoring position. He’s also having a Gold Glove-worthy season, with 13 assists, third among American League right fielders.
He’ll be a free agent after the season ends, and it was thought the Angels might let him go because of a crowded outfield that includes Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos and Vernon Wells. But Hunter has expressed a desire to return, even if it means at a lower salary, and he’s among the team’s most popular players.
Hunter, 37, signed a five-year, $90-million contract with the Angels in 2008 after spending eight seasons with the Minnesota Twins. He is being paid $18 million this year.
Just in case, he allowed himself to take one last look around the stadium as the Angels played the Seattle Mariners in their home finale Thursday afternoon.
“I was thinking about that in the back of my mind the whole game,” Hunter said. “Just looking at the fans, looking in the stands and looking around and kind of reminiscing, you know, these last five years. I had a lot of fun, man. The fans have been awesome here.