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Torii Hunter returns to Angels after son's arrest

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Torii Hunter returns to Angels after son's arrest

From Comcast SportsNet
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Torii Hunter was blindsided by the news his teenage son had been arrested. On the flight back home to Texas two weeks ago, he went through a litany of emotions -- confusion, guilt, fear. The Los Angeles Angels' right fielder and clubhouse leader had to be a dad, shelving his high-paying job on the West Coast for more important duties. He's ready to return to baseball, but only because he's confident his son will be all right. "I've sacrificed a lot for baseball, but I'm not sacrificing my family," Hunter said. "I love them more than baseball, and I love this game." Hunter rejoined the Los Angeles Angels on Monday after a 14-game absence. The veteran outfielder didn't come off the Angels' restricted list before they opened a three-game series with the New York Yankees, but Hunter thinks he'll be ready to play soon. Hunter left the Angels on May 14, a few hours after 17-year-old Darius McClinton-Hunter was arrested in a sexual assault case in Prosper, Texas, the upscale Dallas suburb where the Hunter family lives. Hunter is a long-distance father for most of the year. His wife stays with their three teenage sons, Darius, Torii Jr., and Monshadrik "Money" Hunter, who are finishing their junior years at Prosper High. All three are expected to be Division I football prospects. On that flight home, Hunter wondered about his own culpability in his son's trouble. He has tried to be an attentive father with a disciplinarian streak, saying he doesn't hesitate to "whoop" his kids, but just isn't around them for much of the year. "I thought, man, I wish I could have been here, not just four months (in the winter)," Hunter said. "I wish I could be there 12 months and be in their lives, and none of this would happen, and this and that. I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know the stories, anything like that. It took me a couple of days to get the story. Once we got the truth to come out, I felt better about it." Although Hunter tried to restrain himself from discussing the legal aspects of his son's case while sitting in the Angels' dugout, the loquacious outfielder couldn't resist declaring that much about the police's investigation doesn't add up. For example, Prosper police said its five arrests followed a monthlong investigation, but Hunter claims the alleged assault happened only a week before his son's detainment. "Can't really talk about much," Hunter said. "I'm not a no-commenter. You know I want to tell you everything, but I can't do it. I've got to let the justice system play its part, and let my attorneys do what they have to do, and hopefully this thing gets dropped, but we're ready to go to court no matter what. "I don't wish this on any father out there," he added. "I know a lot of fathers have been through it, but I don't wish this on anybody, to see your son go through this. All the embarrassment, all the lies that are out there -- don't always believe what you read, because it's not even close. But it's a lot better." Hunter spent the last two weeks with his family, making time almost every day to watch the Angels on television. Los Angeles is 9-5 without Hunter, climbing out of last place heading into a key homestand against the Yankees and the AL West-leading Texas Rangers. The Angels didn't hesitate to allow Hunter to take an indefinite leave. General manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia checked in with the veteran almost daily during his absence. "That decision wasn't tough at all," Scioscia said. "We all love this game and understand the sense of duty you have to this game, but there's things you have to handle with your family." Even when outfielders Vernon Wells and Ryan Langerhans got hurt during Hunter's absence, the Angels didn't rush him back. Hunter thought about rushing himself when Langerhans ran into an outfield wall in San Diego, but his wife wouldn't allow it. Hunter took his son to the movies last weekend and was pleased to see Darius' first smiles in nearly two weeks when they saw "The Avengers." McClinton-Hunter has been recruited as a receiver by several schools, and the elder Hunter said Utah and Texas Tech already have contacted the family to say they're still interested in Darius. Torii Hunter is prepared to return to Texas if his son's case proceeds through the justice system, but he's eager to get back to his game as well. "They all seemed like they were a lot better," Hunter said. "My wife can handle the situation. My attorneys can handle the situation. My three boys, they're very upbeat. We were talking a lot. Through all this stuff, my family and I, we got a little closer."

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

The day after Kris Bryant suggested that first-time fatherhood and the dramatic reality of world events have changed how he looks at his future with the Cubs, general manager Jed Hoyer outlined why it might be all but moot.

Setting aside the fact that the Cubs aren’t focusing on contract extensions with anyone at this time of health and economic turmoil, the volatility and unpredictability of a raging COVID-19 pandemic in this country and its economic fallout have thrown even mid-range and long-term roster plans into chaos.

“This is without question the most difficult time we’ve ever had as far as projecting those things,” Hoyer said. “All season in projecting this year, you weren’t sure how many games we were going to get in. Projecting next season obviously has challenges, and who knows where the country’s going to be and the economy’s going to be.”

Bryant, a three-time All-Star and former MVP, is eligible for free agency after next season. He and the club have not engaged in extension talks for three years. And those gained little traction while it has looked increasingly likely since then that Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, would eventually take his star client to market — making Bryant a widely circulated name in trade talks all winter.

MORE: Scott Boras: Why Kris Bryant's free agency won't be impacted by economic crisis

The Cubs instead focused last winter on talks with All-Star shortstop Javy Báez, making “good” or little progress depending on which side you talked to on a given day — until the pandemic shut down everything in March.

Báez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber are both also eligible for free agency after next season, with All-Star catcher Willson Contreras right behind them a year later.

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None has a multiyear contract, and exactly what the Cubs are willing to do about that even if MLB pulls off its 60-game plan this year is hard for even the team’s front office executives to know without knowing how hard the pandemic will continue to hammer America’s health and financial well-being into the winter and next year.

Even with a vaccine and treatments by then, what will job markets look like? The economy at large? The economy of sports? Will anyone want to gather with 40,000 others in a stadium to watch a game anytime soon?

And even if anyone could answer all those questions, who can be sure how the domino effect will impact salary markets for athletes?

“There’s no doubt that forecasting going forward is now much more challenging from a financial standpoint,” Hoyer said. “But that’s league-wide. Anyone that says they have a feel for where the nation’s economy and where the pandemic is come next April is lying.”

The Cubs front office already was in a tenuous place financially, its payroll budget stretched past its limit and a threat to exceed MLB’s luxury tax threshold for a second consecutive season.

And after a quick playoff exit in 2018 followed by the disappointment of missing the playoffs in 2019, every player on the roster was in play for a possible trade over the winter — and even more so at this season’s trade deadline without a strong start to the season.

Now what?

For starters, forget about dumping short-term assets or big contracts for anything of value from somebody’s farm system. Even if baseball can get to this year’s Aug. 31 trade deadline with a league intact and playing, nobody is predicting more than small level trades at that point — certainly not anything close to a blockbuster.

After that, it may not get any clearer for the sport in general, much less the Cubs with their roster and contract dilemmas.

“We have a lot of conversations about it internally, both within the baseball side and then with the business side as well,” Hoyer said. “But it’s going to take a long time and probably some sort of macro things happening for us to really have a good feel for where we’re going to be in ’21 and beyond.”

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Cubs' GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Cubs' GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Veteran umpire Joe West made waves Tuesday downplaying the severity of COVID-19 in an interview with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. 

“I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus," West said. "I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths.”

As far as the Cubs are concerned, those comments don’t represent how to treat the virus. In fact, they’ve gone out of their way to ensure everyone treats it with equal severity.

“That’s one of the things we've really tried internally to instill in our players and our coaches,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday, “[that] everyone here has to take it equally [serious].”

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Hoyer noted like the world, MLB isn’t immune to people having different viewpoints on the virus — those who show concern and those who don’t. This echoes comments made by manager David Ross earlier on Tuesday, and Hoyer said those he’s talked to with the Cubs don’t feel the same way as West.

The Cubs had an up close and personal look at pitching coach Tommy Hottovy’s battle with COVID-19 during baseball’s shutdown. It took the 38-year-old former big leaguer 30 harrowing days to test negative, and in the past week many Cubs have said watching him go through that hit home. 

“When you get a 38-year-old guy in wonderful health and he talks about his challenges with it,” Hoyer said, “I think that it takes away some of those different viewpoints.”

To ensure everyone stays safe and puts the league in the best position to complete a season, MLB needs strict adherence to its protocols.

“I think that's one of our goals and one of the things that we feel is vital is that we have to make sure everyone views this the same way, because we can't have a subset of people within our group that don't view it with the same severity,” Hoyer said.

“That’s not gonna work. We're not gonna be successful."

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