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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

More from Torii Hunter's introductory press conference

Didn't get enough Torii Hunter quotes from Friday's press conference? Here are some more tidbits that didn't make the original story of the pursuit and signing of the free agent:

ON MIKE ILITCH:"This guy has a lot of fire. I flew here Tuesday and I went into his office. He just greeted me with a big smile and he was talking about, ‘When you came here, you played against us with fire, and that’s what we need, fire.’ And just looking at him, talking to him, I could tell that he really wants to win that World Series. I’ve been playing major league baseball for 14 years now, 14 seasons, and I see that same fire. I could look at him and feel it, because I’m searching for the same thing. I really want to win the World Series. He’s given me that great opportunity to win the World Series with the Detroit Tigers in 2013, and I want to say thank-you, Mr. I."

ON WINNING A WORLD SERIES TO COMPLETE HIS CAREER:“For me, it’s not complete. If we don’t get to the World Series, no, it’s not a success because I’ve been that guy for seven years in the postseason. I lost. So I don’t want to lose anymore and I know I’ve got a really good chance over here. Other teams I saw, they had a chance to win but I don’t think they were going to win the World Series. That’s why I chose here and I was being proactive and I came to shake hands. I wanted to be a Tiger.”
“That’s definitely the hole. You could say the Gold Gloves, the All-Stars, whatever it may be but it’s not complete. Nothing’s going to be more gratifying and satisfying until I win that World Series. All that stuff, I don’t feel complete. So I know what’s going to make me complete is winning a World Series and I think the Tigers give me a better chance of winning a World Series. I know Mr. I wants to win one.”

ON WINNING A WORLD SERIES FOR ILITCH:"Just watching these guys, the last couple years — I was here in those Minnesota days, when I was with Minnesota, and I’d come here, we had those battles. I was here when they had to go home-grown, most of these guys were home-grown, and they wasn’t doing too well. Mr. I has just changed this whole organization, the face of it, the last seven, eight years.
"When I came to talk to him Tuesday, just shaking his hand, and saw the fire in his eyes, and all we talked about was winning, that encouraged me. Because everybody knows I want to win.
"I’ve been to the playoffs several times and lost, so I really want to win a World Series before I get out of here. This is my last stand, you know? One more push, and I’m all in. Just to hear him talk, he fired me up, and that’s why I came over here, because this organization is definitely about winning. And that’s all I care about.
“That guy is funny. Mr. I, you guys have something special here. I heard about him for so many years and I got a chance to really meet him and sit down and talk to him. He has a great personality, good character man, and he’s very down to earth and I like that about him.”
“For me, just to hear him (Mr. I) talk about the desire to win. He’s just fired up about it. He really wants me to come play because he saw me on the other side, I had so much fire. I would take out the shortstop, run down the line, I would dive for balls, run into the wall, he saw all that. He said, ‘That’s what kind of fire we need.’ Hopefully I can bring that to the ball club. Not saying that none of the guys here have fire, they do have fire, but I want to bring something different and see if that works.”

ON VISITING THE TIGERS:"They were sitting down at the table and I told him (Dave Dombrowski) to his face, ‘I want to be a Tiger. I want to win a World Series. I know this is the team I want to be with. Let’s get it done today.’ I mean, I don’t want to sit around and just wait. I really wanted to get something done that day. I know what team I wanted to play for, and he saw it in my eyes. And we just knocked it out right away. It wasn’t about being greedy or anything like that. We came with something that was fair for us, and I’m excited to be a Tiger. And thank you for allowing me to be that guy."

ON WHEN HE CHOSE THE TIGERS::Uh, during the season? I just watched you guys and the way you play the game and I look at that pitching that you guys have. ... I just looked at the ballclub. I was scouting clubs just in case the Angels didn’t sign me back. I knew they had contract restraints over there, so I knew that wasn’t going to happen. But I definitely was scouting. I saw this was the best team in baseball. The early start was just a funk. You always go through a little funk. The early start that the Tigers had, but you saw what they did going down the stretch. They really wanted to win, and every bit of talent that they had came out of them. So I just continued to watch those guys and I saw they might have a spot open over there. Larry, make a call.
"I know talent. That’s one thing over my years playing major league baseball, I know talent. I know what team wants to win, and I know what team is going to win. And I see the Tigers winning in 2013."

ON HOW MUCH OF AN IMPACT BEING CLOSE TO NOTRE DAME — WHERE TORII JR. WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AND BASEBALL — HAD ON THE DECISION:“Honestly, this is a perfect fit. You’re talking about playing in the Central again, a division I know about. I look at the Tigers and see the Tigers winning this division.” 
“And then when I got outside of baseball and look at my family situation … only 2 1/2-3 hours away from my son in South Bend. Not just talking about catching football games, but on a day off I can go out there and hang out with him for a day. We can have lunch, talk, or he can come here when he has time. It’s just a perfect marriage, a perfect fit, and I really think I can win my World Series here in 2013 and ‘14.”

ON BEING A LEADER:“For me, I try to lead by example. I don’t go around and be that rah, rah guy. I counsel guys. I sit one of my teammates down and fill them up with positive thoughts, positive sayings, try to lift them up. That’s what we should do as veteran players. Not sitting there in their locker quiet, not sharing all the wisdom that they have and not being fruitful. I want to give back to those guys and lift them up. Because if you lift your teammates up … as a veteran guy, I’m going to do what I do, for me not to lift my younger guys up, then who’s going to do that? That’s what helps a team win. Baseball is a negative game. Three out of 10 you’re a hero, three out of 10 at your job, you’re fired, three out of 10 in other sports, you’re probably released, three out of 10 in school, that’s an F. In baseball you’re succeeding, so I’m able to tell these guys, three out of 10 you’re a freaking hero. When I give them that, make them see it in a different light, that’s what helps a team.”

ON THE IMPACT KIRBY PUCKETT HAD ON HUNTER'S CAREER:"Man, he had a big part in it. Kirby Puckett was everything to me since I was 17 years old. I was in between Dave Winfield and Kirby Puckett, and I was that kid just like Mike Trout. I was that kid asking all the questions, and they were answering. I had to go to dinner with those guys, and they’d sit and talk to me about finances, about life, about family, about saving your money. And the one reason I live in Texas where there are no state taxes is because of Kirby Puckett. I mean, this guy was an inspiration. On the field, he taught me everything. Play like it’s your last day. You never know when this opportunity’s going to be gone. God blessed you with all this talent. Put it on the field, use it, so you can say, ‘Hey, I used all my talent that God blessed me with.’ Kirby Puckett was that guy. He taught me, ‘Don’t miss a hanging curveball. It’s a gift from God.’ So when I see a hanging curveball, I think Kirby Puckett. If I hit it out of the park, I’m like Kirby Puckett running around the bases. 
"Kirby was great for me, man. That’s where I get my aggressive style of play. If you saw Kirby, if he hits the ball right back to the pitcher, he’s running dead sprint. Me as a youngster, he as a veteran, I look up to him and I see the veteran guy running hard, going first to third, making plays, pumping the guys up, and at the same time treating everybody the same, whether it’s the veteran, whether it’s the rookie, the clubhouse guy, anybody, he shakes their hand, he has a conversation with them like he’s known them for 10,000 years. So Kirby, he definitely had a big influence on my life."

ON GETTING THE NO. 48 FROM RICK PORCELLO:"I called Rick Porcello, and I told him that I wanted to — you know, veteran guys usually give a nice dollar amount for a number. So I offered him a nice dollar amount. And he said, ‘No.’ I’m like, ‘What’s wrong with him?’ 
"Rick Porcello said you know what, he’s from New Jersey, and Hurricane Sandy came and destroyed some parts of New Jersey, and he knows some people that were effected by it. He said, ‘The money that you offered me, could you donate it to this organization for Hurricane Sandy?’ That’s the kind of guy Rick Porcello is. And he really gave me No. 48. I’m like, ‘Are you sure you don’t want anything? You’re OK?’ He’s like, ‘Yes, I’m straight.’ I think he’s No. 21 or something right now, and I think he’s getting a fresh start. I don’t know what his season went like last year, but sometimes mentally when you change things, it changes you. And I think Rick Porcello’s on the right track.
"Thank you, Rick. You the man."

ON WHO — FORMER TEAMMATE MIKE TROUT OR CURRENT TEAMMATE MIGUEL CABRERA — SHOULD HAVE WON AL MVP:“That’s a hot tamale, that question. I would like for both of those guys to win that.”
“That’s a hot tamale. I like Trout and I like Cabrera. Those two totally different players. But the last I checked, since we were kids, MVP was always for the winning side. You talk about Michael Jordan, he’s a winner, the MVP. You talk about when you’re a kid at school, you get an MVP, I’ve never seen a losing guy get MVP. It’s my take on it. I’m a Tiger now.”

ON WATCHING WORLD SERIES FROM AFAR:“No, I can’t relate because those guys went to the World Series. They’ve been there twice and they know what it feels like to win and get to the World Series. That’s winning. But to win it all, they’re just like me. They don’t know what it feels like. They’ve always watched it on the other side. You gotta understand, when you lose like that, there’s no failure, there’s no progress. These guys are hungry for it. Sitting in that dugout watching that Giants team jump up and down over there and me watching it on TV, I was upset and I’m pretty sure they were upset, extra upset. So next year you better believe they’re coming with a fire. They know from April 1, somewhere around there, April 1, these guys are going to be ready to win from day one to the end.”

ON THE CITY OF DETROIT:“I’ve been here several times. We stayed in Birmingham and Troy, we’d come into the city and I ate at Fishbones for years. For me, I seen growth, I seen the face of Detroit change. It looks better downtown, 10-15 years ago it was totally different. It’s a lot better but we still got some work to do. I want to give back to the community, get involved. If there’s investment opportunities out here I will get involved. We can always get better.”

ON JIM LEYLAND:“Funny old man (Leyland). He cracks me up, when I was with Minnesota and the Angels we talked to each other during batting practice, he would have me rolling. He would tell some kind of joke and I’d say, man, that dude is crazy, I want to play for him one day. So we’re here, we had lunch last Tuesday, we talked about life, about players, about baseball, about WAR, about numbers guys, the way the game is changing, he’s a very good man."

ON AL AVILA:Man, I did not know that (Alex Avila) was your son. That is unbelievable. Your son is one of the nicest catchers in the game. He tells me all the pitches that are coming. That was pretty impressive.


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