Hunter on being traded
BALTIMORE— Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter was joking with reporters around Friday’s 4 p.m. Trade Deadline, making a beeline for manager Buck Showalter’s locker only to turn around and burst out laughing at reporters’ reactions.
Several minutes later, the joke became reality as news broke on social media that Hunter was headed to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for minor league outfielder Junior Lake.
“I told [fellow reliever] Darren O’Day we really can’t play catch ’til 4:05, that four or five-minute grace period. At 4:03 he came in and asked me and I was like, I don’t know, they might have just taken couple guys off their Triple-A roster’,” said Hunter, who had been rumored in trade talks in the days leading up to Friday’s deadline, rumors that persisted Friday afternoon. “And then I saw all of your pretty faces [in the media] again around my locker.”
The always-gregarious Hunter, with the Orioles since mid-2011, said he dropped some jokes in with his teammates when saying farewell and acknowledged that being traded once before —from Texas— helped prepare him for Friday’s news.
“There were some great times. Just look at the last four years. Came over in ’11, the crazy thing that happened in ’11 in September…that was probably one of the coolest months I’ve had in baseball,” Hunter said of the O’s late surge in his first taste of Baltimore baseball. “ [2012 we] shocked the world I guess [in making the postseason] and ’13 missing a little bit. And ’14 having that Delmon Young hit [to seal the American League Division Series win over the Tigers], that was probably the loudest stadium I’ve ever been in. A lot of good times here, a lot of friendships made and hopefully they continue through the years.”
Hunter, who goes back to his Texas days with O’Day and Chris Davis, said the toughest part may be for his wife Ellen, who is 7 1/2 months pregnant with the couple’s first child. He planned on going home Friday to talk with her and wasn’t sure when he’d be traveling to meet the Cubs.
“Tommy never has a bad day,” manager Buck Showalter said. “A very infectious personality and he could pitch….He makes it easier with how upbeat he is about it. He was picking us up in there. I know Dom [Chiti] and Dave [Wallace] and I, it’s tough. You through the battles that you go through together, the ups and down, it’s tough to not have that there. There are some other things that it does for the organization.”
First, it frees up some salary as the Cubs will take on the remainder of Hunter’s salary. It also allows the O’s to gain some bullpen flexibility, with the club adding both Mychal Givens and Mike Wright —who both have Minor League options remaining— to the ‘pen for Friday. Lake will report to Triple-A Norfolk.
Hunter, a free agent at season’s end, also didn’t rule out a return to Baltimore next season.
“It’s all about if they want me back I assume,” he said. “There’s not going to be any shut doors. I’m not trying to run, stomp out of here like I didn’t like it. ‘Cuz I loved it.”