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Saturday, September 24, 2011
Torii Hunter wants another shot

By Mark Saxon


ANAHEIM -- Torii Hunter had college scholarships on the table before he signed with the Minnesota Twins out of high school. He is good enough at math to know the odds are stacked against the Angels.

He's just not letting it bother him.

Hunter has been practically willing this team into the post-season since August ushered in a pennant race that has shifted settings and rivals. He has been the one fairly constant element, producing steadily even if the rest of the guys around him haven't been.

At 36, Hunter's window is closing more quickly and definitively than most of his teammates'. The Angels are 2 1/2 games back in the wild card with four games left. Hunter isn't even sure he'll play beyond next season, when his contract with the Angels runs out. As last season proved, you never know when you're going to get this close again.

"I'm just hungry to win. man. I've been to the playoffs so many times and failed. I just want to get there and win," Hunter said. "That's all that matters to me, to get to the World Series. I'm tired of seeing guys jump up and down on that field and I haven't done it once."

The Angels players voted before Saturday's game and picked Mark Trumbo as the team MVP. It's hard to argue with their selection. Trumbo, the rookie first baseman, has powered the offense steadily from April to September. Hunter had the worst first half of his career, but he's been busy making up for it ever since.

He's batting .326 since Aug. 1. Ten of his 23 home runs and 31 of his 83 RBIs have been in these last two, pivotal months.

Without Hunter's contributions, the Angels would be eliminated by now. As it is, they're not exactly in prime position, but their pulse is still readable. It's not just Hunter who has stepped up in these final two months, of course. Some of the contributions have been far more shocking.

The Angels grabbed Jerome Williams off the scrap heap -- independent ball -- back in June. Now, he's 4-0 since they called him up in mid-August.

And get this: If the Angels somehow can force a one-game playoff with Boston or Tampa Bay next Thursday, guess who would be on the mound to start it?

"I'm ready for anything right now," Williams said. "We're still in it, so you've always got to be ready."