TORONTO — Torii Hunter has been on a tear since moving to the No. 2 spot in the Angels' lineup, where he hits behind Mike Trout and in front of Albert Pujols. But as much as the new surroundings have helped, Hunter says a new perspective has helped even more.
Hunter missed 15 games last month to be with his family after his 17-year-old son Darius McClinton-Hunter was one of five people arrested in a sexual-assault case. And even after he rejoined the team Hunter said he couldn't stop wondering whether he had failed his son by being away from home every summer.
"My dad was absent in my life. And I told myself I wasn't going to do that with my kids," said Hunter, who had only a single in the first 15 at-bats after his return, dropping his average to a season-low .235. "When something like this happens, I feel like if I was there, this wouldn't happen."
Hunter is unable to discuss specifics of the case, though he has suggested the charges against his son don't add up and he's hoping the whole thing is dismissed. In the meantime he said he has found comfort in the Bible and in the faith-based self-help book "Boundaries" by John Townsend.
But real peace of mind came after talking with friends and teammates.
"They kind of gave me a different perspective on things," said Hunter, who had three hits Friday and is batting .370 in his last 19 games. "It made me relax. The atmosphere here is positive. I really thank this team for helping me get over what I had to get over."
Dan Haren struggled Thursday for the fourth time in as many starts. But at least he was able to take solace in the fact he's been there before.
He'll start July with a record of 6-7 and a 4.53 earned-run average — numbers nearly identical to the 7-8, 4.60 he had when he was traded from Arizona to Anaheim in July of 2010.
"I turned it around that year. And I have to do it again," said Haren, whose ERA fell by more than 1.5 runs over the last two months of 2010. "I'm confident in myself and I'm confident in my work ethic."
He's not quite as confident in his ability to keep the ball down. And that, he says, has a lot to do with the fact he has given up eight homers in his last 222/3 innings and had a June ERA of 7.16.
"It's arm angle. It's where I'm striding, if I'm opening up too much," he said. "It's just a matter of being consistent. It's obvious that I'm not throwing as hard as I had in the past, so mistakes are magnified.
"So I have to take it upon myself to make sure that I'm down in the zone."
Mark Trumbo said he hasn't been invited to take part in the Home Run Derby at next month's All-Star game. Pujols has been asked, though he said he hasn't decided whether to accept. That could affect Trumbo's chances to participate because it's unlikely two players from the same team will be on the four-man squad…. Jerome Williams, placed on the disabled list June 20 with a respiratory issue, is expected to make the first of two rehab starts with triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday.