Torii Hunter's not a vengeful guy, and he wasn't particularly unhappy to wind up in Anaheim, and now Detroit, after a decade in Minnesota. But man, he's taking it out on the Twins these days.
Already a .305 hitter with a .475 slugging average against his old team coming into the game, Hunter hurt the Twins again on Wednesday, twice extending innings with two-out singles against Kevin Correia to bring the game's best hitter to the plate. And both times, Miguel Cabrera delivered RBI singles, supplying all the offense the Tigers could muster in their 3-2 loss to the Twins.
"Torii likes to play against us. He gets excited. He's game-on, man. I don't like to face him much," said manager Ron Gardenhire. "He's learned over the years that the biggest thing is the winning part now. He's made his money, he still loves the game, and now he's trying to find that ring."
Batting in front of Cabrera is a good place to look. The reigning American League MVP impressed Correia with how willing he was to simply put the ball where there was a hole, rather than trying to knock it out of the park.
"The guy's a tough out. He's the best hitter in the world. He didn't hit the ball hard off me, but he's just so good," Correia said. "That's what he's trying to do, hit it where he hit it, in that hole, and get those RBIs."
Correia actually struck out Cabrera in the first inning on a pitch that he admitted isn't always called a strike.
"He had the same approach all three at-bats. He was trying to go the other way, and I was throwing two-seamers in on him," Correia said. "That one [the strikeout pitch], I just threw a good straight fastball, a good pitcher's pitch. It could easily have been a ball but for the way Joe [Mauer] caught it. That was one he got for me."
Aaron Hicks' father wore No. 31 during his days as a minor-league outfielder in the Padres' system, but Alex Burnett owned that uniform for the Twins, so Hicks was assigned No. 32. When Burnett was waived, however, Hicks had a chance to claim the family number.
He'll stick with 32, he said, after consulting with Joe Hicks. "He loved that it's one more. 'Just be better than I was, actually making it to the big leagues,' " Hicks said. "And the fact that his favorite player wore the number when he was here, Dave Winfield."
Dan Gladden, who won a couple of world championships wearing the Twins' No. 32, stopped by the clubhouse in spring training and gave his blessing, too. "I think it looks good on him," said Gladden, now a Twins' radio broadcaster. "He said he father's favorite player was Dave Winfield. I told him he should do his homework -- somebody else wore it, too."
And now lots of people might wear it. Hicks said he noticed a few people in the Target Field stands sporting No. 32 jerseys on Opening Day. "Of course, they're all my family members," he said with a laugh.