Sid Hartman: Woozy Hunter shows class after beaning

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 2, 2007 - 1:42 PM

Already reeling from a rough week before taking a pitch to the mouth, he initially was irate. But smiling through his pain, he forgave pitcher Zack Greinke.

Twins center fielder Torii Hunter got hit in the head during spring training, and on Thursday he was hit in the mouth in the second inning by Kansas City pitcher Zack Greinke.

"For myself, it's been a tough week. I've been in the champagne scandal, the Jackie Robinson comment, and then I get hit in the face," Hunter said. "There is just so much going on the last couple of days. It's crazy. I'm trying to soak it all in and get it out of my system, just go out there and get ready to play baseball."

Hunter said his first thought was to go after Greinke.

"It was so much pain, I thought all my teeth were out. I thought my jaw was broken, I thought my nose was bleeding, I thought everything," Hunter said. "I'm thinking about all this while I'm on the ground. Now, he just messed up my pretty face, you know what I'm saying? I look good today, and now I can't go anywhere. I can't go eat."

Hunter said he felt like he had been in a fight with Mike Tyson. "One of my teeth is a little loose. I think it's a little sensitive. I think it's going to be fine. They just stitched me up, they gave me three or four stitches. It hurts. The novocaine shot, that was pretty good actually."

Once Hunter got up, he said he calmed down.

"If you get hit in the face, what are you going to think about? 'I gotta get him,' " said Hunter. "When I took a couple steps, I had time to think about it. He didn't try to do that. Greinke came over, and we talked, and we settled our differences. I gave him a little joke. I wrapped my face up like I had plastic surgery, and he was pretty nervous about that. He's a good kid.

"No pitcher in this league would try to throw at your head. If they're going to throw it at you, they're going to hit you in the body, the leg, or the ribs, whatever, but they're not going to try to hit you in the head. I don't think Greinke was trying to do that," Hunter said.

The Hunter beaning just added to the list of the Twins' recent problems with several players on the disabled list or playing hurt.

The team hit only .214 in losing three of four to Cleveland and Kansas City during the home series. Michael Cuddyer hit .176, Joe Mauer .231 and Justin Morneau .111.

But this is only April, and things were bad last April before they got a lot better.

Eight top prospects

Rick Spielman, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel, says there are eight blue-chip players available in Saturday's NFL draft, so the Vikings -- who pick seventh -- are going to get one of those top players unless they trade down.

While Spielmen wasn't about to tip the team's hand, it's not difficult to list six who are almost a cinch to go early: quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell of LSU and Brady Quinn of Notre Dame; offensive tackle Joe Thomas of Wisconsin; wide receiver Calvin Johnson of Georgia; running back Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma; and safety LaRon Landry of LSU.

No doubt the Vikings would love to have one of them. The other two blue-chip players on the Vikings list could be any number of defensive players, including defensive ends Gaines Adams of Clemson or Jamaal Anderson of Arkansas.

Jottings

Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports Inc. and the team's point man for the new stadium, said everything is signed and sealed to start construction except for an agreement with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. "We thought everything was all set, but they came back with some other things," said Bell, who is still confident all will be worked out.

In Seattle, the word is former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey is a leading candidate to become the coach of the Sonics, for whom he was an assistant for 11 years.

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