Torii Hunter: “we’re brainwashed to want to win”

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LAKELAND, FLORIDA — I made it into the Tigers’ clubhouse right as it opened this morning. It’s like most of the other spring training clubhouses. A bit more cramped than some because Joker Marchant is a bit older, but it’s the same scene you always see. At least physically. In terms of vibe it felt much looser than many I’ve been to.

Miguel Cabrera has a lot to do with that. Unlike a lot of megastars who are scarce when the clubhouse is open to the press, he was in front of his locker the entire time. He holds court over in his corner, mostly with the Latino players, but not exclusively. Indeed, there appears to be more racial/ethnic/rookie-veteran intermingling in the Tigers’ clubhouse than you often see. As it was Cabrera was loud and laughing and joking. At some point he and some other players started making random rooster/chicken/I have no idea sounds and it devolved into a game of some kind in which one of them took video of the others as they all tried to do the same thing. If I had remembered even a lick of my college Spanish I would have asked, but oh well. They all looked like they were having a ball and happy to be in each others’ company. Good chemistry? I dare not even suggest it.

I had a reunion with Torii Hunter, with whom I spoke in Tempe when he was with the Angels in 2011 and 2012. As always, Hunter was amiable and talkative. Indeed, if you’re holding a notepad anywhere near his locker he’ll just start talking to you without you asking him anything, which is highly unusual. But pleasant. I’m pretty sure that’s the reason why every baseball writer goes out of their way to praise Hunter. The guy could talk about how we should seriously consider forced euthanization of everyone over 50 and how we should outlaw ice cream and baseball writers would still talk about how great he is. I get why. He makes their jobs easier. We all like people who make our jobs easier.

Hunter and I talked about the politics of veterans taking long bus rides during spring training — he doesn’t have to do it and is just fine with that — the difference between Florida and Arizona — he much prefers Arizona, even if he likes being with the Tigers — and the thing that makes him wake up every day even after the grind of spring training starts to set in:

“I just want to win a championship. That’s what we all want,” Hunter said.

I asked him if, as many in the media like to say, a players’ “legacy” is somehow incomplete if they don’t get a ring. He considered that for a second and didn’t quite agree with it, but he did say “Ballplayers, we’re all brainwashed to win. We’re brainwashed to want that. That’s what we want.”

He feels he’s close. Joe Nathan came into the room and Hunter yelled across to him. After their conversation ended I asked Hunter if he helped recruit his old Twins’ teammate to Detroit this offseason. “Yeah, I did. I called him and told him,” Hunter said. By “told him” it was clear that he meant that he told them that Detroit is where he should come to win a World Series.

The Tigers are among the handful of teams who can seriously say they’re set up for that.

Julio Teheran throws six no-hit innings in return from disabled list

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Braves starter Julio Teheran dazzled in his return from the 10-day disabled list on Sunday, tossing six no-hit inning against the Padres. He walked three and struck out 11 batters on 95 pitches. Unfortunately for Teheran and for the Braves, the no-hit bid ended quickly as reliever Shane Carle surrendered a one-out single to Cory Spangenberg in the seventh inning. Nevertheless, the Braves went on to win 4-1 over the Padres.

Teheran, 27, went on the disabled list on June 5 with a right thumb contusion. He apparently suffered the injury while batting during his June 4 start against the Padres. Following Sunday’s effort, Teheran now carries a 3.97 ERA with a 67/36 K/BB ratio in 77 innings this season.

Coincidentally, Teheran has a spotless ERA on Father’s Day across four starts. Here were the results from his previous three starts:

  • June 16, 2013 vs. Giants: 6 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K
  • June 21, 2015 vs. Mets: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K
  • June 19, 2016 at Mets: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K