Fan favorite Torii Hunter returning to LA Angels in new role

A legend is returing to Anaheim.
Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins
Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

His playing days may be over, but Torii Hunter is returning to the Los Angeles Angels as a special assistant to General Manager Perry Minasian, first reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale via X.

Torii Hunter's history with the LA Angels

On Saturday, Hunter was announced to be rejoining one of his old ball clubs in the front office. He was reportedly supposed to be on the coaching staff when it was first announced, but the deal fell through. Hunter has experience in this position, having been a Special Assistant in Baseball Operations for the Minnesota Twins since 2016. Hunter is a five-time American League All-Star, nine-time Gold Glove winner, and an owner of two Silver Slugger awards.

Hunter was instrumental to the Angels as a leader and mentor to a then-rookie Mike Trout. He was the one who eventually moved to right field to accommodate Trout. One of the signature moments between Hunter and Trout was when Trout made a non-human catch to rob J.J. Hardy of a home run in Baltimore off Jered Weaver. Hunter was in shock and as excited as Trout was that he made that catch.

Why is Torii Hunter returning to LA Angels?

There have been some reports that Hunter wants to be a manager one day. Special assistants get first-hand knowledge of the ins and outs of the thinking of baseball general managers. They also receive latitude to participate in other things during their time with the organization, like getting insights into coaching or scouting. Of course, the common argument goes that the best players don’t always make the best managers. There are too many examples of that to count. At the very least, maybe a whisper from Hunter will give Minasian confidence to force moves from owner Arte Moreno.

This is just another move that the Angels have made in the past few years to try to get former players back in the franchise's ranks as coaches. We saw in spring training that David Eckstein, Tim Salmon, and some others came in as instructors. To build a reliable team, the organization must have a culture and a connection to its past when the franchise was more successful. Bringing in these Angels legends can be seen as a helpful tool, but it can also be seen as a marketing stunt. Would anyone really be shocked Arte Moreno would make these decisions only to make the franchise look better? Of course not. It never hurts to have a lot of experience on the field and in the front office during a rebuild, however, and it's fair to hold out hope these changes aren't just cosmetic.