Torii Hunter returns to Angels after son's arrest


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."

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Grading the Caps' offseason moves: Caps re-sign Tom Wilson

Grading the Caps' offseason moves: Caps re-sign Tom Wilson

The quest for the Stanley Cup doesn't begin on the ice, but during the offseason as general managers build their teams for the upcoming campaign. The Caps have made a number of moves this summer to try to make their team better and get over the playoff hump.

Let's break down and grade each move the team made this offseason to help figure out whether it was the right move for the team.

Today's move: Re-signing Tom Wilson

Not every offseason move involves bringing in someone new. Tom Wilson may have been a restricted free agent, but the Caps still had to make a choice on whether or not to bring him back. The team decided to walk away from fellow RFA Michael Latta, but offered Wilson a qualifying offer and re-signed him to a two-year deal worth $4 million.


In the end, the move was no surprise.

General manager Brian MacLellan made clear after the season that he wanted Wilson to become a Joel Ward type of player.

“It’s on Tom and on us to turn him into that kind of guy that has a net-front presence, that finds loose pucks, finds rebounds, plays good along the wall," MacLellan said. "I think Tom is our answer to that."

But is there room for Wilson with such a crowded roster? If he develops into the player MacLellan envisions, absolutely. The Caps have a need for players willing to fight for those dirty goals and Wilson's physicality and offensive upside makes him an ideal candidate to do just that.

Grade: A-

To truly evaluate this move, let's try to forget where Wilson was drafted. It's clear he's not going to live up to his first round selection. That, however, does not mean he does not still have value for the Caps. It's time now for that value to come from his offense rather than just from his fists.

The best part of this move is not the price, but the clear, achievable goal the team has set before Wilson.

The Caps need a net-front presence. Wilson needs to find his offensive game. Despite what other general managers may think of him, Wilson can and should be contributing more than just seven goals and 16 assists in a season. Now he has a "prove it" deal and a clear, defined goal of what the Caps want to see him develop into.

When the Caps drafted him, they were hoping for a Milan Lucic type of player. That does not look like it's going to happen, but it would still be foolish to give up on Wilson who is just 22 years old. At this point, it doesn't matter where he was drafted. If he becomes a Joel Ward, there's still value in that.


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What Wizards coach Scott Brooks learned during his year off

What Wizards coach Scott Brooks learned during his year off

Much of the attention focused on how Scott Brooks can help the Washington Wizards naturally centers on his time coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder. Here's something to remember: The Thunder fired Brooks after seven seasons. This reminder isn't a knock on the hire, not at all. It's to consider what a person goes through after such an event, how they process the scenario and what changes if any would they make with another opportunity.

The Wizards gave Brooks another shot at coaching. Soon we'll see how the year or so outside the league changed his approach now that he's back. Actually, we don't have to wait for the start of training camp or the 2016-17 season because Brooks was asked about this during an interview with NBA writer Chris Mannix on the Vertical Podcast.

Brooks' answer was less X's an O's but more black and blue.

I know as I was growing as a coach, I understood that the wear and tear on the bodies were important to manage. When he had such a young, dynamic team. Our practices were so much fun and intense and very competitive, but as I grew as a coach, I understood that we have to be efficient in what we do and figure out what’s really important and cut our practices down. The analytics tell you that.

The thing I didn’t focus on: Minutes per game. I focused on minutes per practice. Because you know, you can play a guy 36 minutes per game, and cut it down a minute, but still practice them for two-and-a-half hours and still have an hour and twenty minute shootaround, that minute is really nothing.

Seeing some of the training camps, I was fortunate Coach Pop [Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich] let me come for three or four days, and I saw how he did it. There was a lot of similarities in practice plans and how we did things, but I really pinpointed his as being really efficient. They weren’t long, they were to the point, they were very competitive, and they moved on quickly."

Other factors contributed to the Wizards missing the playoffs last season, no doubt, but injuries derailed the campaign. Injuries have remained a consistent and unwanted part of Bradley Beal's four-year career. John Wall played through pain most of last season and required knee surgery after the campaign ended. Ex-coach Randy Wittman struggled dealing with any type of minutes restrictions for his players. He often played his main contributors heavy minutes even in games decided well before the final buzzer. Soon after the season ended, the Wizards parted ways with their head trainer. 

Injuries, finding ways to curtail them is a main plot point heading into the upcomng season. That would have been the case regardless of the next head coach especially since Beal just signed a five-year, $133 million extension and Wall, a three-time All-Star remains the straw that stirs the drink. That this topic is top-of-mind for Brooks when it comes to what he learned during his gap year works just fine.

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Finlay: Excited to take over as Redskins Insider

Finlay: Excited to take over as Redskins Insider

It’s an exciting day for me to take over the Redskins beat from Tarik El-Bashir. As a native Washingtonian, it’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve wanted this job since I was a kid. 

In fact, in sixth grade, after months of writing nothing but Darrell Green stories and turning them in for English homework, Miss Girard said I was no longer allowed to write about the Redskins. Who got the last laugh, Miss Girard?

Working with Tarik and Rich Tandler covering the Skins at CSN the last few years helped me learn a lot, as did my earlier work with Mr. Irrelevant, SB Nation DC and the Washingtonian. My approach to the beat will be to cover all the angles relevant for fans, and try to look ahead to what might happen and find stories that fall under the radar. In an era of information overload, readers expect more than just stats and quotes from coverage, and I know I will be able to deliver that experience.

This beat means a lot to me. I’ve watched the Redskins my whole life, I’ve cheered for them for most of it. One of the things I hate to hear is when somebody moves to the D.C. area and says ‘nobody is from here.’ 

I’m from here. My wife is from here. My friends are from here. Go to a Redskins game any Sunday, and thousands and thousands of people will show you, loudly, they are from here too. 

If you can, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (jpfinlay3) and Facebook. I think social media is a vital part of covering a team, and I will be very active across all platforms. 

Most of all, I like to have fun. I recognize not everyone gets to watch football for their job, and I want to enjoy all of it. I’m open to talking with readers, even disagreeing here and there, so feel free to reach out. 

And before I forget - thank you. Thanks for reading, for arguing on Twitter, and please keep it coming.