NEW YORK—Tommy Hunter couldn’t hide his surprise and delight to be back with the Orioles. It’s been just under 13 months since he was last with the team, and most of the faces were very familiar to him.
When he arrived in the clubhouse around 11 a.m., he began hugging the guys he knew, and shaking hands and introducing himself to the ones he didn’t know.
“I’m thrilled. Some of my best friends are in there. So, it’s been a wild year and a half. It was pretty exciting times in our household last night,” Hunter said.
Since he was traded by the Orioles to the Chicago Cubs on July 31, 2015, Hunter spent nearly three months with the Cubs and signed with Cleveland in February. He was released by the Indians on Thursday.
How did he end up back with the team he loved?
“I have no idea. There was a slip, a fall, a break of the back, three offseason core surgeries and a few things that happened in the meantime. I had a kid. There was a lot of things that happened to get me back to this spot. It’s come full circle and, to be honest with you, I couldn't be happier,” Hunter said.
On the day he was traded, Hunter was shocked and sad.
“I’m not going to stomp out of here like I didn’t like it because I loved it here,” Hunter said then.
And now, he has returned.
“It doesn’t go away. There were a lot of memories here. A lot of lasting memories, not only for me but for my family as well. Baltimore is special to me, my family, it’s always going to hold a special place. Walking back through the doors and seeing all the faces I just saw makes you smile pretty big,” Hunter said.
Hunter was on a rehab assignment with Columbus when he was released on Thursday. In July, he fell down stairs carrying his young son and hurt his back. He last pitched on Wednesday.
In an ideal world, the Orioles might have wanted him to pitch a game or two in Norfolk. But, they need him and wanted to keep Hunter away from other teams who wanted him.
“I’m ready to roll. I threw nine pitches, I think on Wednesday, in an inning in Indianapolis. I’ve been pain-free for quite a while now, quite a while. I’m here,” Hunter said.
Now that Hunter has turned 30, fans expecting a quieter Hunter will be disappointed. He’s going to be the same, he says.
“I’m a pretty open book. I’m a pretty honest guy. Sometimes honesty isn’t the best approach and people can’t handle it too much all the time. That’s the way I was raised. I’m going to be my jubilant self and try to bring joy to other people’s lives…and mine as well,” Hunter said.
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