The Angels' Torii Hunter is congratulated after hitting a home run… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Tempe, Ariz. — Torii Hunter is 36 and entering the final year of a five-year, $90-million contract, and with cheaper, younger and talented players (Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo) capable of pushing their way into the Angels outfield next season, there is a chance the team's right fielder and most popular player won't be back in 2013.
But that clearly is not a subject Mike Scioscia wants to discuss right now. In fact, the Angels manager got a little testy Thursday morning with a reporter who prefaced a question about Hunter by saying this could be the manager's last spring with the nine-time Gold Glove Award winner.
"I'm not going to get into last springs, first springs, whatever," Scioscia said. "Torii is a unique player. Not only is he talented physically, but he's very mentally strong. His presence in that clubhouse is felt.
"I am not going to refer to this being his last year. I'm not doing that. I'm not sitting here reflecting on, is this Torii's last year? No. That's not ever crossed my mind. And I hope he stays here."
Hunter, who will make $18 million this season, was slowed by a quadriceps injury for much of the first half of last season. But he hit .324 with a .396 on-base percentage, .537 slugging percentage and 10 homers in the final 51 games to close the season with a .262 average, 24 homers and 82 runs batted in.
He said he would love to finish his career in Anaheim, and hinted that he'd be willing to "take less money" to remain with the Angels. But his future will hinge on how he performs this season.
"They have so many young guys coming up, guys they want to give playing time to, so I know it could be difficult for me," Hunter said. "But if they're willing to keep me here, I would love to stay."
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