Torii Hunter back with Angels

Updated: May 28, 2012, 8:21 PM ET
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com

ANAHEIM -- Outfielder Torii Hunter rejoined his Los Angeles Angels teammates Monday after spending two weeks in Texas helping his family deal with sexual-assault charges against his 17-year-old son Darius.

Hunter is hopeful he will be activated from the restricted list before Tuesday night's game against the New York Yankees.

"This is my safe haven," Hunter said. "I come out here for three hours and I don't have to think about anything. I think about winning and playing the game, going out there and battling on the field with all my teammates. When the game's over, there it is, the problem, whatever you have, lying and waiting for you."

Darius Hunter is charged in Collin County, Texas, with sexually assaulting a child, a second-degree felony. He was arrested May 14 along with three juveniles and another 17-year old, Garrick White. Hunter's attorneys said they have recorded evidence of the alleged victim recanting her testimony.

Torii Hunter said he felt better about returning to his team after hearing his son's side of the story and seeing him smile for the first time in two weeks as the father and son were leaving a movie theater Friday. The family is hoping the case will not proceed to the grand jury, but that they're prepared if it goes to trial.

"It's my son. This is my blood. For him to go through this and watch him cry every night, go through all this stuff, it's pretty tough. I don't wish this on any father out there," Hunter said.

Darius Hunter, a safety, has been recruited by several college football programs and many of them have dropped out since the allegations surfaced, Hunter said. He said Utah and Texas Tech called to say they're still "on board," with the recruitment of the Prosper High junior.

The Angels have gone 9-5 in Hunter's absence. He was batting .256 with five home runs and 15 RBIs when he left the team and flew home, about two hours after hearing the charges against his son.

"He's our leader and he's been our leader since he signed here," said Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos. "It's good to have his energy back in the clubhouse. We were winning some games, but if we were losing it would have been a little different not having Torii's voice in here."

Hunter took batting practice at his home daily, he said, and ran sprints every morning. The Angels wanted him to go through a workout with the team Monday before activating him.

"We all love this game. We understand the duty you have to this game, but there are things you have to do for your family," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he's ready to come back and play some baseball."

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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