ARLINGTON, TEXAS – Torii Hunter expected to be punished for his jersey-throwing tantrum, but a two-game suspension and a fine “is a little bit harsh,” he said Friday. So he will appeal the penalty, allowing him to play until his case is heard.
“I’ve never appealed before. I’ve always accepted my punishment. And I understand the punishment now, but I just think it’s a little harsh,” the Twins outfielder said a few hours after being notified of his suspension by Major League Baseball. “You do the crime, you do the time. I got ejected. I knew something was going to come down. I thought maybe just a fine.”
Hunter apologized to his teammates for the eruption, manager Paul Molitor said, “which I didn’t really feel was necessary.” And he apologized to fans, too, saying, “I would definitely like to say I’m sorry for my actions, my emotions. … I’m a passionate guy. This is my job and I come to do my job well, and I expect you to do your job as well. I can’t think about suspension or how much I’m going to get fined. I’m here to play and have a passion for this game.”
During the Twins’ 7-2 loss to Kansas City at Target Field on Wednesday, Hunter was unhappy with a called third strike by plate umpire Mark Ripperger, a pitch that appeared to be outside the strike zone on replays. Hunter showed his displeasure by taking off his pads, shin guards and uniform jersey, and throwing them onto the field.
“I don’t think anybody is overly surprised that the league decided to take some kind of action,” said Molitor, who was ejected with Hunter but was not punished further. “Obviously [it] was a very overt reaction to whatever happened at home plate, and kind of spilled over to Torii’s extended reaction. … It’s just reality. People are going to get to a point sometimes where emotion is going to bust loose, and unfortunately, there’s consequences.”
The suspension was for Hunter’s “actions,” MLB said in a release, without spelling out those actions. Hunter had to be separated from Ripperger by crew chief Jeff Kellogg.
“I don’t think [Hunter’s reaction] was over the top. Guys who have been around, they kind of reach a point where they say what they say and do what they do, because they kind of have some entitlement from their tenure,” Molitor said. “I think there’s some legitimacy in that.”
Hunter’s appeal has not yet been scheduled. The suspension will be served once it’s heard.
“In the future, if he needs a couple days off,” Molitor deadpanned, “he can just come in my office and we can figure something out.”
• Rookie outfielder Eddie Rosario returned to the Twins and was in the starting lineup batting sixth after being placed on the paternity list for Wednesday’s game. Rosario’s wife, Milany, gave birth to the couple’s third child, Lucas.
• Injured Twins righthander Ricky Nolasco, recovering from an impingement in his right ankle, threw 20 pitches from a mound Thursday, though not at full exertion, Molitor said. Nolasco will throw harder Sunday, the manager said, “and then [we’ll] make a determination if he’s ready to get into a game” or perhaps needs a rehab start.
• A report by Fox Sports suggested Friday that USA Baseball might seek to add Twins prospect Byron Buxton to the roster for the Pan-Am Games, which take place in Toronto from July 10-26.