Torii Hunter’s special road trip – LA Times

By Mike DiGiovanna
Los Angeles Times

Torii Hunter turned the high school graduation of his son, Cameron, in Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday into a surprise party.

“I didn’t tell him I was coming,” said the Angels center fielder, who missed Tuesday night’s 8-3 victory over the Blue Jays. “He was shocked. When he saw me, he almost burst into tears. It was nice to see him walk across the stage [and get his diploma].”

Hunter, who received permission from the Angels to attend the ceremony, returned Wednesday morning and was back in the cleanup spot for Wednesday’s game against Toronto.

It was an expensive trip. In addition to chartering a private jet to fly to Arkansas and back, Hunter agreed to donate his salary from the game he did not play — about $100,000 — to charity.

“It was worth it,” Hunter said. “I’ve been gone for a lot of the 18 years of his life. I never got the chance to hang out with him much. I missed a lot of his games…. Whatever I made yesterday will go to a good cause.”

Hunter kept track of Tuesday’s game through cellphone alerts and caught the end of it on television.

“I was screaming in my bedroom watching it,” Hunter said. “I can only imagine how the fans feel.”

Rehab report

Jeff Mathis, out since April 20 because of a broken bone in his right wrist, is happy with the progress he has made throwing to the bases over the past few days.

But his swing has been a little slower to return, putting the catcher at least a week to 10 days away from a minor league rehabilitation assignment.

“I thought his throwing would be slower, because I had a similar injury and the thing that came last was the throwing,” said Manager Mike Scioscia, a former Dodgers catcher.

“He’s actually ahead of pace in terms of throwing the ball, but he’s still a little stiff swinging the bat. He’s making progress, but not enough to go out and play yet.”

Mathis has been taking dry swings and hitting off a tee, but he’s not sure when he’ll begin taking batting practice.

Power surge

Mike Napoli is the first Angel to homer in four of five games since Garret Anderson (Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2007) and the first Angels catcher to hit seven homers in a month since Lance Parrish in June 1990. The club record for homers by a catcher in a month is nine, set by Earl Averill in May 1961.

Scioscia refused to speculate on whether Napoli would move to the designated hitter spot to replace the struggling Hideki Matsui when Mathis returns.

“If Mike continues to be productive, there will be playing time for both of them,” Scioscia said of Napoli and Mathis. “But it doesn’t make sense to project something that is two or three weeks away.”

Told that the “buzz” on fan message boards was that the Angels should move Napoli to third base, Scioscia said, “What the heck is a message board? Am I missing phone messages or something?”

Short hops

Left fielder Juan Rivera did not start Wednesday because of a bruised left knee, an injury he suffered when he fouled a ball off his leg Tuesday night. He was available to pinch-hit.

May 26, 2010