Torii Hunter spent the opening week of the season reliving the past in his first appearance in Minnesota since he signed with the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent in the offseason.
Friday, he’ll begin to think about his future.
Hunter will play his first home game as a member of the Angels on Friday, as Los Angeles opens its home schedule against the Texas Rangers.
The Angels’ new center fielder struggled in his first two games, going 0-for-8 as he was honored and cheered by fans in Minnesota. Hunter played for the Twins for nine seasons, but signed a five-year, $90 million contract with Los Angeles in November.
After going 3-for-8 with a home run in his last two games, Hunter will surely draw more cheers in his home debut.
Series at a Glance
Fri, Apr 4 - 10:05 pm ET
Sat, Apr 5 - 9:05 pm ET
Sun, Apr 6 - 3:35 pm ET
“I am drained. I’m tired. Mentally tired,” Hunter said. “I get to go home and relax, back at home in L.A. No pressure. No emotional (situations). I’m good to go.”
So are the Angels (3-1), who won their opening series with the Twins behind a number of impressive performances from their starting pitchers.
Even with their top two starters from 2007 sidelined to start the season, Los Angeles starters combined to go 3-1 and allow just six runs in 28 1-3 innings in Minnesota. John Lackey’s triceps strain is expected to keep him out for at least a month, while Kelvim Escobar’s shoulder injury is more uncertain.
Following wins by newcomer Jon Garland and Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana allowed two runs on just four hits in six innings Thursday as the Angels won 5-4, getting home runs from Gary Matthews Jr., Hunter and Mike Napoli.
“We’ve got some good starting pitching,” Hunter said. “Our pitching ain’t slouching now.”
Dustin Moseley (4-3, 4.40 ERA) will try to continue the trend on Friday as he occupies the back end of Los Angeles’ rotation while Lackey recovers.
The right-handed Moseley, coming off elbow surgery in the offseason, spent most of his rookie season in the bullpen in 2007, but was 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in eight starts, never throwing more than six innings. He also blanked the Rangers for four innings in his lone start against them Sept. 25.
“Fortunately we have some depth in an area that is certainly stretched,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told his team’s official Web site. “Dustin has bounced back from his elbow surgery, and we feel we’re going to have a chance to win regardless of who is out there.”
Kason Gabbard (6-1, 4.65) will start for Texas. Gabbard, who came over from Boston in the Eric Gagne trade last season, was 2-1 with a 5.58 ERA in eight starts for the Rangers before missing the final two weeks with a blister on his thumb.
The left-hander gave up five runs on five hits and five walks at Angel Stadium in an 8-7 Rangers win on Sept. 2.
The Rangers (1-2) dropped their opening series in Seattle, losing 4-1 in the rubber game on Wednesday. They had just three hits in that game and scored only eight runs in the series, salvaging a win on Josh Hamilton’s ninth-inning home run in a 5-4 victory Tuesday.
Texas went 3-6 in Anaheim last year, and has lost the last three season series against the defending AL West champion Angels.
“You’ve still got to go right through them,” Rangers shortstop Michael Young told his team’s official Web site. “They won it last year, and they know what it takes. They’ve got some guys banged up, but you know that they have depth. They always find a way to stay competitive.”