ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers pitcher Tommy Hunter went hunting with Cliff Lee while the baseball world was in Orlando for the Winter Meetings. Hunter said they didn't talk much about the ongoing negotiations, but that the two did talk on Tuesday once the reports surfaced that Lee was heading to Philadelphia.
"It's hard to see him go," Hunter said Tuesday night. "He was a good guy, a good person. He took care of me. He's a good friend. I'm sure it's going to stay that way. We do get to play him and I told him, 'Don't leave one over the plate if I'm throwing against you.' If he leaves one over the middle of that plate, buddy, it might be Justin Smoaked right back over his head. He started laughing and said, 'You'll be lucky if you get a foul tip.'"
Of course, for Hunter to face Lee in the regular season, they would have to be opposing each other during the May 20-22 series in Philadelphia next year.
"It's something to look forward to in interleague play," Hunter said. "I didn't want to ask him details [of the contract]. I didn't really want to know them. But I'm sure it's a decision that he thought out. He's a pretty smart dude. I'm sure there are reasons and a thought process that went behind it and it fit his needs. It's one thing, it happened and now Texas has to move on. Texas has to compete next year with or without him. Now we're without him, so someone has to step up."
Hunter talked about how Lee looked after the younger players on the team, something the 24-year-old Hunter appreciated.
"He was the guy that took you out to dinner," Hunter said. "You'd ask him when he was leaving and he'd tell you to meet him down there in five minutes and we'd take a cab together. He was a class act. He takes care of the younger guys. He was a leader."
Hunter said he's focused on getting better heading into 2011., which included sitting down and making a list of goals.
"There are definitely ways I can improve," Hunter said. "We're going to work on some things and hopefully the little slump, I guess you could call it, at the end of the year doesn't happen again."