Rancho Cucamonga’s good fortune is Arkansas’ bad luck.
Fans of the Angels’ high Class A California League team get the treat the next few nights of watching one of baseball’s premier players – Torii Hunter – work out the kinks after a month-long stay on the disabled list with an adductor strain on his right side.
Hunter thought he was ready to go play in his native Arkansas for the Angels’ Double-A affiliate in Little Rock over the weekend, but that fell through when he didn’t pass a strength test administered by the training staff in Chicago.
“That was really disappointing,” Hunter said. “I wanted to play at home. But at least I’m getting close. I’m hoping to be back out there [in center field for the Angels] this weekend in Baltimore. I hate sitting around watching.”
The Angels have held their ground in Hunter’s absence with Gary Matthews Jr. doing a solid job in center field. Matthews got his first day off on Tuesday night, with Reggie Willits in center, since moving in on a regular basis on July 8.
Hunter is batting .305 with 17 homers and 65 RBIs. His slugging (.558) and on-base percentages (.380) would be career highs.
Hunter’s injuries were the result of collisions with the walls at Dodger Stadium on May 23 and at AT&T Park in San Francisco on June 15.
A case can be made that Hunter was the MVP in the American League over the first half of the season, carrying his club offensively while playing the brand of defense that has made him a Rawlings Gold Glover winner eight years running. Angels color commentator and former Major League pitching star Mark Gubicza, one of the brightest talents in his new field, has made that observation.