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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Torii Hunter reaches 2,000-hit plateau speedily

DETROIT — New Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter, whose first-ever home run was in 1999 at Tiger Stadium, set another milestone in Detroit — this time as part of the home team — registering three hits on Tuesday to get him to the 2,000-hit plateau.

“I’m going to get my 300th home run here, too,” Hunter said with a smile, knowing that he’s three homers shy of that mark.

“I’m excited, I’m very excited. Those are individual goals. It’s great to have individual goals and I thank God for the opportunity to go out there and play on a day-to-day basis and stay healthy to get 2,000 hits. So I feel like I’m a better hitter now, the last couple years, and to get hits, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. To get 2,000, I just thank God for the opportunity.”

The game was stopped to recognize the feat, and the Comerica Park crowd of 28,979 gave Hunter a standing ovation, something he acknowledged with a tip of the batting helmet.

““It’s awesome. I’ve been playing with the Twins for all these years, when I come here, I still felt a little love and now that I’m here, just they’ve seen me play, they’ve seen me grow as a player, all the Tigers fans. Even though I was with the Twins, but they saw a young, 22-year-old Torii Hunter, they saw the 25-year-old, the 27-year-old, the 30-year-old, so they saw me grow and play this game and to get 2,000 hits, I’m thankful that they showed the support and the hand clap I’m thankful for.”

Hunter has averaged more than two hits per game in his first seven contests with the Tigers, quickly chewing up the gap he had between where he started, and the 2,000-hit plateau, becoming the fourth Tigers player — joining Al Kaline (1955), Charlie Gehringer (1929) and Ty Cobb (1919) — as the only ones in the modern era to have two or more hits in six of the team’s first seven games.

“Certainly congratulations to Torii, 2,000 hits. That’s certainly a nice milestone for him. And we’re certainly happy he got it in a Tiger uniform, obviously.

“It’s unbelievable,” Don Kelly said. “Torii, I’ve played against him but to have him in this clubhouse, just the type of guy he is and to see the positive influence he is and the way he goes about playing the game, real happy for him.”


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