Torii Hunter might retire after the 2012 season

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Here’s Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, chatting Friday with Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

”I am going to retire an Angel. Next year is my last year, and I’m going to retire an Angel. I’m going to evaluate it this offseason. That’s when I’ll know. It’s 60-40, to the positive, that I’ll keep playing. You don’t want to see your skills diminish. You don’t want to linger.”

In other words, Hunter is leaving his options open. But retirement is a strong possibility if things continue to trend south.

Hunter’s five-year, $90 million contract with the Angels runs out after the 2012 season. If he fails to draw attractive free agent offers that winter, the veteran outfielder will simply hang up his cleats.

Hunter, 36, has been named to four All-Star teams and collected nine straight Gold Glove awards from 2001-2009. But he’s batting just .261/.332/.423 across 555 plate appearances this year and was bumped from center field at the end of the 2010 season by the more defensively adept Peter Bourjos.

The writing is on the wall, and it sounds like Hunter would prefer to go out with his head held high.