Published August 03, 2010
BALTIMORE – Torii Hunter is no longer the center of attention for the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels are shifting the nine-time Gold Glove winner from center field to right field, starting with Tuesday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles.
"Torii had talked about at some point in his career taking a little pressure off and moving to one of the corner spots. I think ... it's a great time to do it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
The 35-year-old Hunter is being replaced in center by Peter Bourjos, who was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to make his major league debut. Scioscia said Bourjos can provide a spark and improve the Angels' outfield defense because two positions will be patrolled by natural center fielders.
"I think it's going to make us a little better now, as far as the defensive aspect — being able to get range with Torii in right, Peter in center and Bobby (Abreu) in left," Scioscia said.
Scioscia added that the move with Hunter isn't just a temporary thing.
"Peter's going to play center field. ... You're not going to see Torii flip-flopping back and forth on a given day," Scioscia said.
Hunter has not played right field in the majors since Sept. 19, 1999, when he was with the Minnesota Twins. The last time he played a position other than center field was Oct. 3, 1999, the last game of the season, when he started in left field.
He said he's fine with the move, which he and Scioscia have been discussing, as long as it helps the team.
"I couldn't sleep for three or four days. I've been thinking about it and praying about it," Hunter said. "Maybe we've got to try something different."
Anything that helps the Angels reach the postseason is OK with Hunter. Los Angeles began play Tuesday tied with Oakland for second place in the AL West, eight games behind Texas.
"If it's best for the team, OK. I've never been to a World Series — not even to lose," Hunter said.
The 23-year-old Bourjos was hitting .314 with 13 homers, 52 RBIs and 27 stolen bases at Triple-A.
"This guy can run. He can do some things, I think, to bring some energy to our club," Scioscia said of Bourjos.
Scioscia also hopes the positional switch will benefit Hunter offensively. Hunter is hitting .285 with 16 home runs and 64 RBIs.
"I think it's going to take a little pressure off of Torii from having to go line to line and gap to gap — and let him focus on being the best right fielder in the game," Scioscia said.
To make room for Bourjos on the 25-man roster, the Angels optioned right-hander Bobby Cassevah to Salt Lake. He had a 5.56 ERA in seven relief outings.