The Minnesota Twins brought back one of their homegrown heroes this winter, inking outfielder Torii Hunter to a one-year, $10.5 million contract. Hunter is largely expected to retire once the deal is complete, and the Twins expect to use him as a stopgap in the outfield and a mentor to their younger players.
Of course, things never go as smooth as you’d expect. In his first press conference since coming back to the team, Hunter called reporter Mike Berardino of TwinCities.com a “prick” multiple times after Berardino questioned whether or not Hunter’s opposition to gay marriage factored into his efforts to find a job this offseason.
Hunter’s personal views are no secret – two years ago, he talked about his opposition to homosexuality, and then claimed his was misquoted. During the election season this fall, he starred in a radio ad denouncing gay marriage.
But this isn’t about Hunter’s personal views, no matter what the news cycle may be telling you. Hunter’s supposed to be a professional, able to deflect questions like this easily before moving on to the next thing. This is a guy who is supposed to be serving as a mentor, and he’s tearing into a reporter because of a question he didn’t appreciate, no matter how relevant it was? Berardino didn’t ask Hunter about his personal opinions, he asked whether or not he felt they affected his market this winter. If Hunter had been arrested this offseason and Berardino asked whether or not he felt that affected his market, would Hunter consider that out of line too?
Hunter’s wife gave a more eloquent response, saying, “he’s pretty honest. You’ve seen that today. What you see is what you get. That’s it.” It was apparently too much for Hunter to just move along without sniping at Berardino along the way.
Berardino also released a statement to KARE 11 in Minneapolis, stating that he that he was simply giving Hunter a chance to respond to his critics.
It might be a long season in Minnesota at this rate.