On April 5, 2011, outfielder Cedric Hunter — then a Padre — pinch-hit for Aaron Harang and rapped a single to center field off of Giants reliever Guillermo Mota. Hunter didn’t know it at the time, but he would have to wait more than five years for his next hit in the majors. He spent the four years in between rattling around in the Cardinals’, Indians’, and Braves’ minor league systems.
The Phillies inked Hunter to a minor league contract in January. It didn’t seem like much of anything at the time, but the Phillies suffered some blows to their outfield depth. Aaron Altherr suffered a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist and Cody Asche suffered a strained right oblique. That left them with Odubel Herrera in center field, veteran Peter Bourjos, and Rule-5 pick Tyler Goeddel.
During spring training, Hunter didn’t hit much — only .262 — but he belted three home runs along with five doubles, making an impression on Phillies manager Pete Mackanin. He won a spot on the Phillies’ 25-man roster to open the season. On Thursday, at long last, Hunter got another hit in the major leagues: a home run, the first of his big league career. It wasn’t a cheapie, either; it was a well-struck line drive to right field off of Robert Stephenson. Hunter reflected on the moment, via Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“I was just kind of just in the moment, kind of in awe,” Hunter said. “Running around the bases and once you reach home plate realizing what you just did.”
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Kudos to Hunter for making it back to the majors in a big way.