Rangers pitcher Tommy Hunter can sum up his spring training goals in one word - consistency.
"If you're consistent in baseball," says Hunter, "things will work out for you in the long run."
Hunter joined me on my radio show on 103.3 FM ESPN (7-9pm most weeknights - there's a shameless plug). Among the topics covered, his take on team leader Michael Young's tumultuous off-season. Hunter says Young is one of their leaders and he puts stock in what he says,"He told us he wants to be here and he wants to play, and I hope he gets the opportunity."
Hunter says the off-season went by in a flash but he much prefers that to having those "long & luxurious" off-seasons that follow missing the playoffs. The Indianapolis native says it took awhile for enormity of being a part of the Rangers first world series trip to hit him, "A couple of weeks to a month after the fact, yeah it was something special. It was a job then, but looking back, I played in the World Series, what you do?"
Hunter has recorded 44 starts in 2-plus seasons with the Ranger after being taken in the 2007 supplemental draft. He was 13-4 last season, giving up 3 and 3/4 runs per nine innings.
He struggled in the post-season with the Rangers losing two of his three starts, but he's looking to improve from that experience, as well as the experience of playing with former Rangers-now-Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee. Hunter says he picked Lee's brain to get a glimpse into where the greatness came from. He says Lee's attention to detail was off the charts. Hunter recalling how Lee said the world series logo on the ball weighed more than the other side of the ball because of the ink on it, "I don't know if that's true but because he said it I'm going to listen to it, " said Hunter.
Hunter's in the mix for one of the bottom 3 spots in the rotation, and he says he's a firm believer in what pitching coach Mike Maddux is preaching, "As a staff last year's message was pretty solid and we followed it. Pound the strike zone." Add some consistency and the Rangers could have a difference-maker late in the rotation.