4/18/2014 7:51 P.M. ET
Former Angel Hunter still mentoring Trout
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Mike Trout got his contract, but his big payday looms after the 2020 season, when the Angels' superstar center fielder projects to re-enter the free-agent market at age 29. That's plenty of incentive to turn it down a notch, play a little more cautiously, and not bang into walls and dive headfirst and go all out 162 times a year.
And that's the last thing Torii Hunter would ever want to see.
"If you wanna see a guy who's a five-tool player, played the game hard, ran into walls and dived for balls, and he's still around, I'm one of them," the Tigers' right fielder said on Friday afternoon. "I'm still around. I'm about to be 39, I'm still playing at a high level. Don't change your game. All he has to do is keep playing, keep playing hard, do what he's always been doing. You're going to see Trout. He's going to be around. He's going to make $400 million. Of course, it's not about the dollars; he's going to put up great numbers. He's a great kid. That's one guy you invest in."
Trout and Hunter, an Angel from 2008-12 and Trout's biggest mentor as he established himself in the big leagues, still talk about three times a week. Hunter was one of the main guys Trout went to as he was negotiating his six-year, $144.5 million contract, and going back and forth between going year to year or taking the guaranteed money.
Hunter's advice was simple.
"It's not about anybody else," he recalls telling Trout. "It's not about your mom, it's not about your dad, about nobody around you. It's about Mike Trout. If it's good for you and can get you comfortable, no matter what it is, that's what you take. No agent can tell you, 'No, you can get more.' Don't be greedy about it. If it's comfortable, take it."
Hunter, 38 until July 18, batted .286/.352/.462 in his five-year stint with the Angels, averaging 21 homers and 86 RBIs, and more than proving his worth through a five-year, $90 million contract. He signed a two-year, $26 million deal with the Tigers in November 2012 -- partly because the Angels wouldn't come close to guaranteeing that much money -- and has hinted at playing beyond this season.
Hunter still chases that elusive first World Series ring, with his Tigers losing to the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series last October.
Something else is more important to him, though.
"At the end of the day, it's about how many relationships you've built in this game, and how many people you've helped," Hunter said. "When I leave, that's what I'm going to remember -- the chemistry, relationships, everything. Not the numbers. Not games. I'm going to remember relationships. And [the relationship with Trout] is one I would never fall out on."
Freese pulled from lineup with tightness in right quad
DETROIT -- Angels third baseman David Freese was scratched from the lineup on Friday, hours before the series opener against the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Freese was still feeling the effects of a right quadriceps muscle that tightened up during his last at-bat on Wednesday, which preceded a Thursday off-day, but neither he nor manager Mike Scioscia deem it serious.
Asked late Friday night if he'd be in the starting lineup for the Saturday afternoon game, the 30-year-old Freese wasn't sure. But he was available to pinch-hit during the Angels' eventual 11-6 win Friday night.
"I'll just get some treatment on it and see how it goes, see how I feel tomorrow," said Freese, who entered the road trip with the third-lowest OPS among qualifiers (.414).
Boesch back in Detroit after getting called up
DETROIT -- Angels outfielder Brennan Boesch was a big part of the Tigers from 2010-12, playing in a combined 380 games while posting a .259/.315/.414 slash line. Then came the spring of 2013, when Boesch dealt with an oblique strain, couldn't win a starting outfield job and was released with less than three weeks left before Opening Day.
"I don't really reflect too much on it, other than Detroit was pushing for a championship, like everyone else, and I think injuries played a big role," Boesch said, this time from inside the visiting clubhouse at Comerica Park.
"The Tigers have always had a ton of talent, and if you can't stay on the field, there was guys that were plenty good enough to play, and it just kind of happened that way. No regrets. I wish I could've been more healthy coming into that year, potentially, but I'm just happy with where I'm at physically now."
Boesch, called up on Wednesday when Kole Calhoun's sprained right ankle landed him on the disabled list, was out of the lineup for the Angels' first game in Detroit. But the left-handed-hitting right fielder, basically in a platoon with the right-handed-hitting Collin Cowgill, figures to start on Saturday and Sunday, with righties Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello on the mound.
The 29-year-old Boesch was signed by the Yankees two days after the Tigers parted ways with him, but he was released on July 19 and basically spent the rest of the season rehabbing a shoulder injury. Boesch agreed to a Minor League contract with the Angels in late January, then batted .250/.308/.479 in 13 games for Triple-A Salt Lake, while striking out 20 times, before getting called back up to the big leagues.
"I feel good," Boesch said. "I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself because I feel good. It's one of those things where I've kind of let go and I'm comfortable in my own skin and who I am as a ballplayer. That's a good place to be at. It takes a little while to get to this point, where you feel relaxed, and I definitely feel relaxed."
Boesch went 0-for-1 as a late-game substitution in the Angels' 11-6 victory.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.