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Sunday, October 13, 2013
Hunter relishing moment with Tigers

By Kyle Brasseur, Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- It doesn’t matter if he tells you he’s 26 years old, 28 years old or his actual age of 38 (albeit, a young 38), there’s no denying that Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter is having the time of his life during the postseason.

“I came to the Tigers and now I’m rejuvenated,” Hunter said of his first season with Detroit. “I’ve been laughing with tears in my eyes in the clubhouse all year. They brought the fun back for me and the fight.”

Last season was Hunter’s final year of a five-year, $90 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Hunter admitted to reporters on Sunday that his mind was “cloudy” during the 2012 season, a result of wanting to be with his family as his oldest son, Torii Jr., faced personal issues. Hunter still managed a career-high batting average of .313 for the Angels before hitting free agency and signing a two-year, $26 million deal with Detroit.

“It wasn’t about money, it was just give me what’s fair,” Hunter said. “They gave me my fair offer -- I didn’t want to negotiate, we’re done, this is what I want to play for.

“You are what you are, you’re going to get paid what you’re going to get paid.”

As Hunter went on to say, he’s only about winning the World Series now, a stage the five-time All-Star has never played on. With two previous ALCS appearances under his belt, both ending in losses, Hunter is playing for the chance to celebrate a title with his teammates, something he said he’s longed to do during his career.

“I see this all the time, guys jumping up and down on the field at the end of the season during the World Series, at the end of the World Series, and I’m sitting on my couch and having a Coors Light,” Hunter said with a laugh. “That’s the way you want to be. It’s my dream and I’m going to keep fighting and keep trying to get there to my dream.”

Hunter batted .304 with 17 home runs and 84 RBIs during the regular season for the Tigers before slowing down to hit .167 in six postseason games so far. However, the veteran outfielder has served as a model for Detroit’s young players, passing on invaluable October advice to them that he’s no doubt learned from his own playing experiences.

“When you’re playing in the postseason, I don’t care if it’s the National League or American League, you better cherish this moment,” he said. “You might not get a chance to do it again. Cherish the moment right now.”

Cherishing the moment is exactly what Hunter is doing, no matter what age he tells you he is.