Torii Hunter, delighted to return to the Minnesota Twins, was anything but delighted near the end of the press conference welcoming him back.
A beat reporter, Mike Berardino, badgered him about whether his opposition to same-sex marriage had reduced his prospects as a free agent. Hunter snapped, “Hey, Mike is kind of a p—k huh? No, seriously, you’re a p—k, man. I don’t even know you. You’re a p—k. Seriously. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, man. That’s your job. He’s definitely a p—k, though.”
The question arose because of Hunter’s endorsement of Arkansas Republican Governor-elect Asa Hutchinson in the 2014 campaign, which included this quote: “Asa is committed to the principles we hold dear, like a strong faith in God, equal justice for all, and keeping marriage between one man and one woman.”
Initially, Hunter responded that he preferred to avoid the question of his endorsement, adding he had thought he should “just go with the best person that’s good for the situation…. And I’m from Arkansas and I know what’s that, that’s all. This has nothing to do with being a Democrat or a Republican, just make sure you make the right decision. That’s it.”
After Berardino persisted by querying whether Hunter would make more comments about gay marriage, or answer questions on the subject if he were asked, Hunter answered, “No. I mean, nah. There’s nothing to talk about. You already know, so why keep talking about it? I said it. It is what it is. No, I’m not going to talk about it if you bring it up. It’s not even baseball-related. We can do that later, when I retire. Then I’ll tell you the truth–everything.”
Berardino later gave the lame excuse that his questions were designed to let Hunter answer his critics. He said, “Regardless, I consider the unfortunate matter closed and I look forward to covering Mr. Hunter throughout the 2015 baseball season.”
Before the contretemps, Hunter had expressed joy at his return, asserting, “This is where I want to be. I’m in it for the long haul if they’re willing to do it.” The Twins signed Hunter to a one-year, $10.5 million contract. He played for Twins for 11 seasons before he played five years for the Los Angeles Angels and two seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Hunter stated that he had fielded other offers, but he wanted to return to the city that he called home, and required the Twins to sign him to a no-trade deal.
Hunter had said in late November that he preferred returning to the Twins: “There are so many reasons. You talk about the love from the fans and the love I have for the fans and the organization, growing up there. I came there as a young boy and came out a man. I always hold true to Minnesota Twins values I was taught.”