Last season Torii Hunter came into Detroit as a fresh faced veteran hopeful of finally notching his first World Series. Sadly for the Detroit Tigers and Hunter they came up just short, literally, by just a few inches over Torii’s glove as he was sent hurdling over the Fenway fence. In what was just one season it felt like Hunter had been with the Tigers for 10 years as he immediately grabbed the reigns of a chaotic locker room and instantly became a fan favorite. With the recent shifting of the Tigers roster and especially the recent managerial change, the Tigers need Hunter to be the go to guy for leadership.
Don’t think that point gets lost on new manager Brad Ausmus either. A manager who has never coached a professional team before and is barely older than Hunter is certainly going to appreciate having a guy who has been through it all, including having fought Albert Pujols famously. Hunter is not afraid to protect his manager at all costs, and he will be as vocal as need be to make sure that Ausmus commands the type of respect he is going to need this season. Now a vocal player can always go the other way and start pulling away from credibility to the manager, but that won’t be a concern for Hunter who has never been anything less than the absolute favorite of every manager who has coached him.
2014 needs to be Hunter’s year both from leadership and on the field performance if the Tigers are going to mount a serious threat at winning it all this season. No player possesses the life experiences and game knowledge that he possesses, and there is no doubt that the Tigers are going to need to tap into that more now than ever before as they embark in a whole new era of Tigers baseball.