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Torii Hunter talks a good game with Carl Crawford

Angels center fielder isn't exactly tampering with the free-agent-to-be, but he does remind the Tampa Bay outfielder how nice it is in Anaheim.

July 13, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

Maybe it's a coincidence that the locker of Tampa Bay outfielder and free-agent-to-be Carl Crawford was placed next to that of Angels center fielder Torii Hunter in the American League clubhouse at Angel Stadium.

Then again … maybe not.

Hunter is many things to the Angels — face of the franchise, team leader, elder statesman, cleanup batter, nine-time Gold Glove winner — and he's also the team's recruiting coordinator, though his hard sell to first baseman Mark Teixeira came up short two winters ago.

Maybe he'll have better luck with Crawford, who is batting .321 with 11 home runs, 50 runs batted in and 31 stolen bases and earned the start in left field for the AL on Tuesday night.

Crawford will hit the market after this season, and he figures to be a prime target of the Angels, who could use his powerful bat, his speed and defensive prowess.

"I've been playing eight years, so I know how nice it is here," Crawford said before the game. "Torii just kind of reminds me sometimes."

Hunter claimed he had "nothing to do" with Crawford's locker placement.

"He's just a good friend — I just give him good advice," Hunter said. "I was a free agent once. I told him to have fun with it. It's like being recruited in high school."

Hunter stopped himself.

"This isn't tampering, is it?" he said. "Not for us players."

"He's going to make his own decision," Hunter continued. "He's a grown man. I might make a couple of phone calls here and there. I'm pretty sure he'll stay in Tampa Bay, but he has the right to flirt with other teams."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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