Within a few hours on Friday afternoon, two of the most interesting personalities of recent Orioles history exited the team. One went with much fanfare. One went with hardly any.
Tommy Hunter had to learn about this trade to the Chicago Cubs from social media, and that wasn’t right. Bud Norris was told earlier in the day he was being designated for assignment.
Hunter was with the Orioles for four years and a day. Norris for exactly two years.
Both made a huge impact on the team.
Hunter was an outsized personality who came to the team in one of the best trades in Orioles history. On July 30, 2011, the team received Hunter and Chris Davis from Texas for Koji Uehara, and Hunter served the team as a starter and in the bullpen.
Never shy about expressing his feelings, Hunter was best as a setup man for Darren O’Day and Zach Britton though he wasn’t as sharp this year as he was a year ago.
The Orioles tried him at closer in the early weeks of 2014, but he wasn’t suited for it at the time. He was better setting up.
In Hunter’s first game for the Chicago Cubs, he picked up a save, and perhaps he’ll get more opportunities for that.
Jim Johnson wasn’t prepared to be a closer in his first opportunity, but a few years later did much better in his second chance.
Hunter will be missed. He already is. The clubhouse is a quieter, and maybe not better place without him.
Norris doesn’t have a new team, yet, but he will. Dan Duquette seemed troubled on Friday when he was discussing Norris. It clearly troubled him that the team hadn’t been able to help Norris.
He won some big games in 2014, and he enjoyed the spotlight. Norris won the ALDS clincher in Detroit, and pitched superbly.
This year was awful. He didn’t pitch well in spring training. He and Buck Showalter didn’t mesh, and he was unhappy in the bullpen.
Norris was a breath of fresh air in the clubhouse when the team won, and he took losing hard.
It was entertaining in March when he and home plate umpire John Hirschbeck jawed at each other over balls and strikes in a Grapefruit League game.
You couldn’t imagine Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez or Chris Tillman growling with an umpire. Only the Budman.
Here’s hoping Hunter and Norris will find happiness in their new baseball homes. They were appreciated around here.