Day off for Torii Hunter is more of a mental break than a physical one
Torii Hunter's body was sore, and he was still feeling a little woozy on Tuesday after having hit his head on the outfield wall Monday night, but that wasn't why the Angels center fielder was not in the lineup for Wednesday's series finale against the Boston Red Sox in Angel Stadium.
"I'm more mentally than physically tired," Hunter said. "When you're mentally tired, you try to get a little more 'oomph.' Then you start jumping at the ball, and everything goes to hell."
The Angels have lost five of their last six games against Texas and Boston, and Hunter, the team's cleanup batter, is four for 23 with one home run and one run batted in during the stretch.
Ever since he served as unofficial host and Angels goodwill ambassador for the July 13 All-Star game in Anaheim, Hunter has been trying to catch up on his rest. With an off day Thursday, Manager Mike Scioscia wants Hunter to get two full days off before the Angels opened a three-game series against the first-place Rangers on Friday night.
"He has to recharge," Scioscia said. "If some slumps are caused by fatigue, you have to address that."
Scioscia is certain Hunter's recent slump has been caused by fatigue.
"It's not just all the All-Star hoopla," Scioscia said. "Playing a demanding position like center field and batting cleanup is a tall order. Sometimes you have to freshen up."
Could Hunter, who has missed only five of the team's 103 games, be taking on too much responsibility to carry a team that is 8 1/2 games out of first place and struggling to remain in the race?
"Yeah, that's his nature," Scioscia said. "He wants to be the lead dog, and he's good at it. But at times he's getting big with his swing, thinking he can do more with a pitch. He wants to be the guy who leads the team into the playoffs, and he does that, but this team isn't built around one guy. We need everyone to do their thing."
For Hunter on Wednesday, that will mean being a cheerleader.
"They told me not to do anything, but if they need me to pinch hit, I'm there," Hunter said. "They told me to relax. I have no idea how to do that. Should I crack jokes? Talk to Scioscia?"
Without Hunter, Scioscia opted for three table-setters, Erick Aybar, Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo, at the top of the order, ahead of Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui and Howie Kendrick. Bobby Wilson will catch right-hander Joel Pineiro, and Reggie Willits will start in center field.
-- Mike DiGiovanna
Photo: Torii Hunter. Credit: Kirby Lee / Image of Sport / US Presswire