Hunter Mentally And Physically Ready For 2006

Hunter will be back in center for the Twins.

After an injury-shortened 2005 season, one in which he also had a fight with first baseman Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter seems ready to return to his place as the centerfielder for the Minnesota Twins. With his ankle, and his relationship with Morneau healed, Hunter will be in the middle of a lineup that could surprise some people in 2006.

It was a week of clearing the air for Torii Hunter, as he silenced all questions about his knee, and his riff with Justin Morneau. The Gold Glove centerfielder told media that his knee is at 100% right now, and there should be no worries as he heads into his tenth season as a member of the Minnesota Twins. Hunter fractured his left ankle as he scaled the center field wall in Fenway Park on July 29, and was out for the remainder of the season.

In September, Hunter had put his house up for sale, mostly because he believed he was going to be traded. After seeing a bunch of his close friends traded from the franchise in years past, and after hearing from some he trusts that a trade was going to happen, Hunter told the press that the game is a business and he did not know where he would be in 2006. All that talk has died down in recent weeks, and the speedster fully expects to be manning center field for the Twins next season.

However, the 2006 season may very well be the last season for Hunter in Minnesota, as he was quoted as saying he was unsure about his future beyond the 2006 season. With the emergence of Denard Span as a legitimate Major League prospect, some club officials believe that Span could be ready to take over center field as soon as the 2007 season.

Towards the end of the 2005 season, Hunter got in a clubhouse fight with Morneau, mostly because of Hunter was frustrated with not being able to help the team. Morneau apparently said something that Hunter did not like, and a fight ensued, with Hunter supposedly taking a swing at Morneau. However, the two were able to settle everything during TwinsFest, and now the focus is solely on getting back to the playoffs.

As for next season, Hunter is slated to bat in the fifth spot in a lineup that looks pretty good from 1-5. In order, Manager Ron Gardenhire listed the top five sticks as, Shannon Stewart, Luis Castillo, Joe Mauer, Rondell White, and Hunter. Morneau appears to be out of the meat of the order, but that could change very quickly.

Overall, if White can stay healthy, and Jason Kubel is also at 100%, the Twins could have a very potent lineup. Stewart is solid, Castillo is an All-Star, and if Mauer keeps progressing the way he has been, this is a lineup that could back the pitching staff with enough runs to win a lot of games. Recommended Stories

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