New Orioles pitcher Tommy Hunter-who was one of two pieces in the trade last week that sent setup man Koji Uehara to the Texas Rangers-despite making his debut last night in Baltimore’s 8-2 victory over the Royals, may know more about his teammates than what you might think.
One of the biggest surprises was able to dish to WNST when he joined Glenn Clark on “The Afternoon Drive” on Monday before joining the club in KC?
Despite his former Texas Rangers teammate Vladimir Guerrero struggling at the plate this year , Hunter will be the first to tell you that it’s still to the team’s benefit to keep Guerrero around…
Because of his mother’s cooking.
“I don’t know if the city of Baltimore knows about that,” Hunter told Clark about the Guerrero family. “I know Vlady and Vlady’s mom very well, and she’s probably the best cook in the world. I’m so excited for that right now.”
But, obviously Hunter wasn’t traded at the deadline to partake in Mrs. Guerrero’s cooking. Hunter-a supplemental compensatory pick in the 2007 MLB Draft by the Rangers-was brought to Baltimore to solidify a struggling Orioles pitching staff.
Hunter, 25, came out of the bullpen in Tuesday’s victory over the Royals, earning a hold in his Orioles debut despite allowing a run on two hits.
He figures to be in the bullpen for the Orioles with the hope that a transition to eventual starting pitcher will take place.
Hunter-in his four-year career has appeared in 53 games and started 44 of them. He holds a 23-13 mark with a 4.36 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP.
His best season came in 2010, when he 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA in 23 games and 128 innings of work. He started out 8-0 on the year and didn’t lose his first game until the last day of July.
It’s something he hopes he can return to in the near future.
“I would like to consider myself a starter,” Hunter told Clark. “It’s something I came up doing. The relieving role isn’t my favorite, but it’s something if I’ve got to do it, I’m going to do it.”
“I’m not going to say no to pitching in the big leagues.”
All the success he had in Texas certainly made the news that he’d been traded to Baltimore as quite the shock, he admitted, but he understands the business.
“It pretty much caught me by surprise,” Hunter said. “I had no idea, but I see good things coming and it is what it is. It’s part of the business, and I’m a Baltimore Oriole. Let’s roll.”
Hunter said the hardest part was saying goodbye to all his friends and teammates in Texas over the weekend, and cleaning out his locker took hours he said on Monday in the clubhouse before he joined the team in Kansas City.
“It’s emotional, but it’s more for the people you came up with, the relationships you built,” Hunter said.
But at the same time, Hunter said he’s familiar with several of the guys in the Orioles clubhouse and organization-guys like Jake Arrieta, Clay Rapada, Jake Fox and Guerrero-and had some interactions with Buck Showalter coming out of college at Alabama.
“I went to high school with Jake Fox, so me and him go way back actually,” Hunter said. “He goes back to my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I played on the 2006 National Team with Jake Arrieta.”
“The thing is, we get to Baltimore and start a new family,” Hunter said.
Hunter was of course referring to the other piece of the Uehara trade-first baseman and still teammate Chris Davis, who also homered Tuesday versus KC.
Hunter had nothing but good things to say about Davis, and even though the baseball gurus see Hunter as the centerpiece of the trade, he will tell you otherwise.
“He’s super-talented,” Hunter said. “He’s an unbelievable first baseman, and as you can see from his stats this year in Triple A, he was just destroying [the ball].”
Hunter said that he will be a sight to see at the plate.
“He’s a very fun player to watch, and if he’s gonna get his at-bats…you guys are gonna have fun watching him,” he stated.
Overall, he knows both he and Davis are now part of the solution when it comes to fixing the losing culture in Baltimore, and he’s ready to tackle it.
“It’s a young core,” Hunter said. “It’s a young group in Baltimore and it just got a little younger but we’re gonna have fun…that’s the cool thing about it.”
“We’re gonna enjoy what we do, and we’re going to put together a run here shortly. The longer we play together, the more camaraderie and more team-oriented, we will become. If they can keep the young core together, we can grow together and it’s going to turn into something special.”
WNST thanks Tommy Hunter for joining Glenn Clark! Be sure to check out the conversation at the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault!