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CACTUS PLAYER TO WATCH: TORII HUNTER

The Associated Press
SPRING TRAINING

The Associated Press

TEMPE – Torii Hunter doesn’t really understand all the talk about his positive presence in the clubhouse.

“I never knew what that meant,” the Los Angeles Angels’ new center fielder said. “I’m just being me. I don’t think it’s a clubhouse presence, I think it’s just me, the way I was raised and taught: treat people like I want to be treated.

“I’m just a regular guy.”

A regular guy who smiles all the time, treats people he just met as if they were his best friends, offers sage advice to young players, and seems to set a sterling example on and off the field.

He likes to make his teammates laugh. He doesn’t play practical jokes.

“I’ll make you laugh with some of my little down-South slang, some of my little jokes I have from the South,” he said. “But I’m not really a guy that will burn your shoelaces, or something like that.”

He grinned and added, “I might have something to do with it, might have somebody do it. But I won’t be the one doing the dirty work.”

Hunter has seven Gold Glove awards, impressive offensive numbers that include a .287 batting average with 28 homers and 107 RBIs for Minnesota last year, and a $90 million, five-year contract that is the Angels’ richest ever.

He still considers himself just a lucky guy from Pine Bluff, Ark., who loves baseball and genuinely likes people.

“Torii is fun to be around. He’s really a delight,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s certainly a positive (having him) because it’s going to help the communication in there. He’s been around. He knows the game.

“He’s just a good person and he’s great with all his teammates. There’s an energy there. I think we feel that in the clubhouse. I think the guys are rallying around him.”

Second baseman Howie Kendrick likes having Hunter as a locker neighbor.

“He’s a great clubhouse guy. I like him. He’s a huge addition to our team,” Kendrick said.

ANGELS IN TUCSON

March 4 – vs. White Sox at TEP, 1:05 p.m.

March 8 – vs. Rockies at Hi Corbett, 1:05

March 25 – vs. D’backs at TEP, 1:05

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