Especially now that Vernon Wells is out 8-10 weeks, the Angels could really use Torii Hunter back. It looks like it might happen early next week.
Hunter missed his 10th straight game Wednesday after being put on the restricted list to attend to matters involving his son in Texas. 17-year-old Darius McClinton-Hunter was one of five youths arrested in a sexual assault case earlier this month.
The Angels initially hoped Hunter would return this weekend, but he decided to stay in Texas.
“It’s still open-ended,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We talked last week and thought he was going to be with us on this road trip.”
Now the hope is that he’ll return at some point during next week’s homestand. Scioscia said that Hunter has been working out, running and hitting in the batting cage he has at his house in the Dallas area.
“I think Torii’s always up. He’s dealing with an issue; that’s kind of where we want to leave it,” Scioscia said. “No doubt he wants to get back playing baseball, because that’s what he’s all about. But he has to be comfortable with his situation and work through some things.”
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.