The nine-time Gold Glove winner, who has never been shy about offering an opinion, is hitting .277 with three homers and 16 RBIs
Dan Patrick:You saw what happened in Philadelphia, when a 17-year-old fan ran onto the field and was shot with a Taser by police. Are you O.K. with someone being Tased if they go onto the field?
Torii Hunter: We've seen fans in Chicago that one year when they jumped on the first base coach [Kansas City's Tom Gamboa], and they had a knife. Some fans are just crazy, man, and not everyone is good people. So if they're running toward you and you don't know what they have, my thing is to defend myself. So I might punch you. But him getting Tased—I don't know, that's kind of weird. But I promise you, not too many people are going to run on that field anymore.
DP:He asked his dad if he should do it ahead of time, and his dad said no. Can you ground a kid after he gets Tased?
TH: No, that's it right there [laughs]. Getting Tased in front of thousands of people and then everyone in the world knowing about it [is punishment enough].
DP:During spring training you got a lot of attention when it was reported that you said there were fewer African-American players in the majors because teams were more likely to sign Latinos since they can be signed for less money.
TH: I was just saying that sometimes [players in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic] get signed cheaper. They have academies—I was just thinking they should get drafted just like [in the U.S]. Even have some college scholarships, so if they don't pan out they go back with something. [I was mainly talking about] the disappearance of African-Americans in baseball. It's something I study. You look my track record up, I'm always trying to get inner city kids to play the game, whether black, Latino, white, it doesn't matter.
DP:Is baseball cool in the African-American communities?
TH: No, baseball's not cool. I'm from there, I'm telling you. Nobody plays it.
DP:If you were 12 now, would you be playing baseball?
TH: If my dad were a major league baseball player, yes, I would. My kids love basketball and football, and they play baseball too. But basketball is [my son's] love. I'm fighting him, my own son. I'm a centerfielder for the Angels; he doesn't care.
DP:Kids get bored by baseball.
TH: I'm telling you, kids, the older you get, those balls are flying in the outfield [laughs]. It's a lot of fun when you're older. I'm having a blast. I've played 18 professional seasons. In football, you get drafted at 21, you're done at 22.
DP:What do you think of the immigration law in Arizona?
TH: I couldn't believe they came up with that, with spring training there. Guys go to a restaurant and probably won't bring their credentials. [They] get pulled over and go straight to jail? I don't think that's right.
DP:Do you think that the All-Star game in Arizona is in jeopardy next year?
TH: It could be, because you're going to get a lot of players from different countries, Latin players, and they might leave [their papers] in their hotels. They play professional baseball and they're there for a good reason, and they go to jail? That's crazy. I don't really get that. Yeah, it could be in jeopardy. Spring training could be in jeopardy.
As a running back, Vikings rookie Toby Gerhart is forbidden by NFL rules to wear number 7, which he wore at Stanford. Instead, he took 32. "I always preferred the single digit; I felt like it made me look slimmer, sleeker, faster," he joked. The 235-pounder said he's a ballcarrier, not a blocker: "They see me as a running back that can add another dimension to their offense."
Don't believe that being a major league manager requires a 24/7 commitment? Red Sox manager Terry Francona told me that he's driven his car in uniform as recently as this spring. "We played Houston for a day game and Tampa Bay [at] night," he told me. "I had to make a pit stop at a CVS to go to the bathroom in full uni. I got a couple of looks."
Line of the week
After his first PGA win, Rory McIlroy, 21, vowed he wouldn't let his success go to his head: "You gotta take a little bit from what Tiger's been through the last few months. You just have to be careful."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. New Eagles QB Kevin Kolb discusses Philly sports fans.
2. Veteran pitcher John Smoltz explains why he hasn't retired.
THE FINE PRINT: Oakland's Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game. And out of respect, his teammates piled on each other 50 feet away from his mound.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
ANDY KING/AP (GERHART)
MIKE EHRMANN (MCILROY)
PAUL SPINELLI/MLB PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES (HUNTER)