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Torii Hunter gives Angels sales pitch to Tampa Bay star Carl Crawford

July 13, 2010 |  2:42 pm

Maybe it's just 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 for Tuesday night's All-Star game in Angel Stadium.

Then again, maybe not.

Hunter is many things to the Angels -- face of the franchise, team leader, elder statesman, cleanup batter and nine-time Gold Glove Award winner. He might also be the team's top recruiting coordinator, though his hard-sell approach toward 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 against the National League. Crawford will hit the open market after this season, and he figures to be a prime target of the Angels, who could use his powerful bat, his speed and his defensive prowess in left field.

"I've been playing eight years, so I know how nice it is here," Crawford said. "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 ... it's not tampering, is it? Not for we players.

"He's going to make his own decision. 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