For Angels, heaven is a killer roster

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 8, 2012 - 9:56 PM

Former Twin Torii Hunter returns to the Twin Cities on an Angels team he hopes will get him his first World Series ring.


Torii Hunter is in the final year of his contract with the Angels.

Photo: Jeff Lewis, Associated Press

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The $90 million contract that enticed Torii Hunter to leave Minnesota after nine seasons with the Twins expires in October, and the Angels outfielder doesn't know where he will play next year.

"This year is pretty big. [The Angels] are waiting to see how the year goes, and that's fine," Hunter said last month in Tempe, Ariz. "Hopefully we get together [on a new contract] and I stay. But if not, I know what I'm looking for."

One more big payday? Three or four more years of guaranteed money? A reunion with Ron Gardenhire?

All would be nice, the 36-year-old said. None are particularly important.

"I've made my money, man, it's not about that," he said. "I don't have a [World Series] ring, and I hate that. At a certain point, it's not about the contract anymore -- I have to play for a team that's really got a chance to win" a championship.

That's why he has loved playing for the Angels since 2008 -- he played for a division champion in his first two seasons in Anaheim, has won at a .560 pace over four seasons, and after the Texas Rangers won the division the past two seasons, the Angels responded last winter by splurging on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in an effort to reassert their AL West supremacy.

"I mean, they went out and got this guy," Hunter said, gesturing toward Pujols, a three-time MVP. "What else do you need to know about how much they want to win around here?"

Well, perhaps one other thing. The Angels' top four starting pitchers -- Wilson, Jared Weaver, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren -- give them one of the best quartets in the major leagues, and the addition of Pujols and the return from a knee injury of Kendrys Morales boosts an offense that has scored fewer than 700 runs each of the past two seasons.

But that offense was primarily powered by a rookie last year: Mark Trumbo, who clubbed 29 home runs, 61 extra-base hits, and 87 runs batted in, all team highs. And Trumbo woke up one day in January to discover his job -- first base -- had been given away to Pujols.

"Yeah, it was surprising, but I'd have done it, too," Trumbo said in Tempe. "I don't think anyone is going to say signing a guy like [Pujols] is a bad idea."

No, but the Angels' next idea might or might not be; it has certainly been debated ever since. With Pujols manning first base and Morales slotted as the designated hitter, the Angels hope to keep Trumbo playing regularly by moving him across the diamond. Trouble is, Trumbo never has played third base at any level of pro ball. And the major leagues are a tough place to serve an apprenticeship.

"I study tape, I work with the coaches, I take a lot of ground balls. I've talked to a lot of people with plenty of experience over there, and I feel good about my ability to [handle] it," Trumbo said. "It's about footwork, getting your feet set, it's about reflexes, and not trying to do too much. It's coming along pretty well."

"We're excited about the prospect of him being able to make the routine plays at third base and handle things well enough to allow us to keep his bat in the lineup," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He has the potential to be very good. But we're not going to know this until we see him in games, with guys hitting 90-mph fastballs down the third-base line."

Reviews were mixed in the spring; Trumbo made several strong plays and seemed to be reaching a comfort level, but he also committed four errors. And in the Angels' opener Friday night, he rushed a throw that pulled Pujols off the bag for an error, then overran a foul popup for a second one.

"I'd be lying if I said" that his confidence wasn't shaken, Trumbo said after the game.

But Hunter has confidence, too, that the Angels will be strong at third base, no matter who plays it.

"[Alberto] Callaspo, he played third base like a Gold Glover last year," Hunter said. Gesturing toward Trumbo, he added, "and this guy can hit a bomb at any time. Trumbo will hit in more than he lets in. He'll help us win."

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ArizonaJ. Collmenter (10-8)000
MinnesotaR. Nolasco (5-11)000
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Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Baltimore - W. Chen 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Pineda
Kansas City - D. Duffy 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
Seattle - J. Paxton 6:07 PM
Toronto - J. Happ
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 6:08 PM
Detroit - K. Lobstein
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Houston - N. Tropeano 7:05 PM
Texas - D. Holland
St. Louis - A. Wainwright 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
Arizona - J. Collmenter 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
LA Angels - C. Wilson 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
San Francisco - J. Peavy 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
Colorado - T. Matzek 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Ottawa 12:30 PM
NY Islanders
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto 6:00 PM
Washington 6:00 PM
Minnesota 7:00 PM
St. Louis 7:30 PM
Anaheim 8:00 PM
Colorado 9:00 PM
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Arizona 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
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