Torii appreciation day at the Dome

He could feel the love from the fans on what might have been his final home game here.

Twins center fielder Torii Hunter heard ovations Sunday when he took the field for pregame warmups and during each of his four at-bats, but he really felt the love in the top of the ninth inning of the Twins' 7-1 victory over the White Sox.

Hunter took his place on the field before the inning began, but, as planned, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire sent Jason Tyner out as a substitute.

Right fielder Michael Cuddyer walked over to Hunter just before Tyner ran out.

"Don't cry," Cuddyer said to him.

That's where the script ends. Because there was no way for Hunter to plan for the rush of emotion he felt as the soon-to-be free agent jogged off the field in what may have been his final home game as a Twin.

Most of the announced crowd of 29,382 cheered and called his name. Hunter looked up at some of them and noticed tears. Teammates were tearing up. Hunter became teary-eyed, too.

"I wish you guys could have felt what I felt," Hunter said.

"I thought I was the toughest guy, coming from the hood. Here I am, crying."

Gardenhire told Hunter what he intended to do before the game. Hunter, who made his major league debut with the Twins in 1997, rejected a three-year, $45 million contract offer from the club several weeks ago, and requested that talks be delayed until the end of the season. Indications are that the club is willing to add a fourth year to the deal, but Hunter, 32, might want a five-year contract.

The Twins can negotiate exclusively with Hunter until 15 days after the World Series, then other clubs can bid on him. Hunter would be one of the top free agents on the market, meaning that the Twins could get outbid.

If so, Gardenhire wanted to make sure that Hunter felt the love one more time.

"I told Torii, "That doesn't mean you're out of here,'" Gardenhire said. " 'You want to say, "Thank you." You've had a great year. They want to cheer for you and I think you should tip your hat to them also.'

"We're going to do everything we can. As much as these fans love this young man, I think that is going to go a long ways as to the decision to keep him here. He should be a Minnesota Twin the rest of his life. I don't open the checkbook, but that's my opinion."

Hunter didn't sleep well Saturday night. He gave in and got up at 5 a.m. "and just started packing," he said.

He took a good look around downtown as he drove to the Metrodome. The Twins begin a six-game road trip tonight in Detroit and will finish the season on the road at Boston, after which he'll head straight to his home in the Dallas suburb of Prosper. He'll have a clubhouse attendant pack his things and ship them to his home.

So this was it. Possibly one last time to look around the city and the stadium where he went from a great glove, no-hit prospect to a two-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove winner.

"I was walking through the hallways of the Metrodome, talking to people I see coming to the Dome," he said. "Everybody was teary-eyed, telling me good luck and God bless, like I was retiring.

"I'm sitting here with a smile, but I'm really burning up inside."

  • related content

  • Patrick Reusse: If Twins look bleak, save some curiosity for spring

    Monday September 24, 2007

    If Torii Hunter has played his last home game for the club, we'll see in training camp whether Denard Span can replace him -- and find out who else is...

  • Sid Hartman: Hunter isn't ready for a final farewell

    Monday September 24, 2007

    The Twins' charismatic center fielder said goodbye to many Sunday but still hopes the club will find a way to keep him around for a few more seasons.

  • Victory saves home record

    Tuesday September 25, 2007

    Kevin Slowey is showing that he can adjust to major league hitters.Slowey shut down the White Sox for seven innings...

  • Twins vs. Detroit series preview

    Sunday September 23, 2007

    THREE-GAME SERIES AT COMERICA PARKToday, 6:05 p.m. FSN, 1500-AMRHP Carlos Silva (12-14, 4.40) vs. LHP Nate Robertson (8-12, 4.94)Tuesday, 6:05...

  • Twins game recap

    Sunday September 23, 2007

    MVPMichael Cuddyer, TwinsThe right fielder went 2-for-4 with four RBI. Each hit was a two-run single.STATS9 Strikeouts for Kevin Slowey,...

  • TWINS 7, CHICAGO WHITE SOX 1 Today: 6:05 p.m. at Detroit (FSN)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 2 1st Qtr 7:05
Indiana 9
Cleveland 6:30 PM
Detroit
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
Miami
Memphis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Chicago 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
NY Rangers 0 1st Prd 12:27
NY Islanders 0
Arizona 2 1st Prd 14:10
Philadelphia 0
Winnipeg 0 1st Prd 12:01
Pittsburgh 1
Washington 0 1st Prd 13:09
Columbus 0
Tampa Bay 6:30 PM
Carolina
Dallas 6:30 PM
Montreal
Detroit 6:30 PM
Florida
Colorado 7:00 PM
Nashville
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Calgary
Minnesota 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Anaheim 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Ball State 7 1st Half 13:49
Akron 4
Northern Ill 7 1st Half 13:33
Bowling Green 11
Western Mich 12 1st Half 12:45
Buffalo 17
Ohio 4 1st Half 14:45
Eastern Mich 10
Xavier 9 1st Half 11:56
Georgetown 6
Vanderbilt 17 1st Half 10:38
Georgia 19
West Virginia 5 1st Half 14:02
Kansas State 7
Central Mich 10 1st Half 12:05
Kent State 8
Saint Josephs 9 1st Half 12:00
La Salle 10
Nebraska 6 1st Half 10:53
Michigan 11
Miami-Ohio 9 1st Half 13:58
Toledo 9
Tulsa 11 1st Half 11:52
Tulane 8
George Washington 13 1st Half 12:08
VA Commonwealth 12
Pittsburgh 13 1st Half 11:32
Virginia Tech 10
Indiana State 7:00 PM
Evansville
Tabor College 7:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Florida 8:00 PM
Alabama
Tennessee 8:00 PM
Arkansas
Texas A&M 8:00 PM
Auburn
Baylor 8:00 PM
Oklahoma State
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 8:00 PM
Utah State
Fresno State 8:05 PM
San Diego St
UNLV 9:00 PM
Nevada
SD Christian 9:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Colorado State 10:00 PM
Boise State
Temple 6:00 PM
UCF
Coastal Carolina 6:00 PM
High Point
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
Liberty
Columbia International 6:00 PM
Charleston Southern
Campbell 2 1st Half 15:06
Presbyterian 5
Gardner-Webb 7 1st Half 12:33
Radford 7
Winthrop 9 1st Half 12:38
Longwood 10
Tulane 7:00 PM
Houston
(3) Baylor 7:00 PM
TCU
Navy 7:00 PM
American Univ
Valparaiso 7:00 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close