Former Twins outfielder Hunter, now working with Angels, open to managing

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Torii Hunter, sporting a Los Angeles Angels cap and a red Angels shirt, greeted Twins players and staff members as they walked onto the field during batting practice Friday.

Hunter, 48, joined the Angels' front office earlier this month as a special assistant to the general manager, a position he held with the Twins for about six years. He interviewed with the Angels for their managerial opening last winter, which went to Ron Washington, and that increased his interest for working in baseball again.

"I still have so much going on, man, I couldn't give my full mind, body and soul to the game just yet," said Hunter, who declined an offer to work on Washington's staff as the Angels' first-base coach. "I'm on probation right now with my wife. I've got one more year. My kids are out of the house. I'm just easing my way back in."

Hunter co-owns Tender Smokehouse, a BBQ restaurant with four locations and a fifth scheduled to open in September, while working in commercial real estate with two coffee shops and an Arkansas cigar lounge. Add in six grandchildren, and Hunter was OK with some time away from working in baseball.

The possibility of becoming an MLB manager, though, re-energized him.

"It's crept up in there somewhere," he said. "I don't know just yet. They came down last year just to see where my interest level was, and it peaked up when they called me. It kind of got me back into the game.

"You want to have an opportunity to build a team and manage a team, give some of these secrets in Pandora's box and give these young men wisdom. Wisdom, I always say, will heal pain. I struck out a lot, made some adjustments. Failed a lot, made some adjustments. That's something that I want to give back."

Even before Hunter accepted his job with the Angels, he continued working closely with players in the offseason. Royce Lewis has trained with him for years. Trevor Larnach spent the winter in Texas and worked out with Hunter, too.

"Man, what a blessing that was," Larnach said. "It was just simple, man. I don't know. There is a lot of info nowadays. It helps listening to someone who had quite the career like he's had obviously."

Hunter retired in 2015, after returning for a 12th season with the Twins, and his influence still resonates with several key players. He took Mike Trout to dinner to celebrate Trout's 21st birthday when they were teammates with the Angels. Byron Buxton shared the outfield with Hunter during his rookie year.

"It's a good offseason spot," Larnach said. "Obviously, there are resources there, not just with Royce, but other individuals too like Torii and some other people. It was great and very productive. I still try to talk to Royce about all that stuff. I just want to stay refreshed on it."

Julien taking to No. 2 spot

When Twins manager Rocco Baldelli moved Edouard Julien to the second spot in the batting order, he joked his dad would always use the phrase, "slap 'em around a little bit."

"I'm not going to actually do that, but that's what my dad would say," Baldelli said. "Sometimes you just wake someone up."

Whether it had anything to do with the batting order or whether it was just a matter of time, Julien's three starts in the No. 2 hole in the lineup have produced five hits in 12 at-bats (.417 batting average) with three home runs and a double.

"Like Joey Gallo said last year, I'd rather be in the two-hole than leading off, but it doesn't matter where I hit," Julien said. "Just have the same approach."

Julien, who was batting .179 with a .276 on-base percentage before his first game batting second, spent a lot of time last week working on his approach against fastballs. The result of that work, he noted, is pulling two fastballs over the right-field wall.

Does he prefer when he hits homers to the opposite field or pulls the ball to right field?

"Pull is a little bit more satisfying, because I don't do it," Julien said. "Everybody is surprised when I do it. Even myself."

Julien entered Friday with a team-high seven home runs, tied for the fourth-most in the majors with players like Pete Alonso and Salvador Perez.

"For me, it just comes and goes, I feel like," Julien said. "There are going to be times where I'm going to hit four in one week, and there are months where I'm not going to [hit any] home runs. I'm more of a complete hitter than a power hitter, and my goal is just to get on base and help the team win."


* The St. Paul Saints had their game postponed with rain in the forecast Friday and scheduled a doubleheader Saturday. Twins closer Jhoan Duran is scheduled to pitch in one of the games Saturday, his second appearance on a rehab assignment, and rehabbing reliever Justin Topa is scheduled to pitch Sunday.

* Carlos Correa, on the 10-day injured list with a right intercostal strain, took ground balls with the rest of his teammates in pregame infield drills, another sign that he's moving closer to rejoining the Twins on their road trip.