Torii Hunter makes successful broadcast debut for Minnesota Twins – TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press
Before making his Fox Sports North debut Friday night as a color analyst, Torii Hunter sought the advice of an old friend in the next booth at Target Field.
Rod Allen, in his 15th year working Detroit Tigers TV broadcasts and his 19th year overall in the business, gave the former Tigers right fielder (2013-14) some valuable tips. Among them: Talk about what you know and don’t talk over the pitches.
“I told Torii to be himself,” Allen said. “He’s a guy with an infectious personality, and the one thing I didn’t do when I first got into broadcasting was I didn’t allow my personality to come out because I was too concerned about saying the right things and the enunciation of my words and different things like that. It took awhile before I really became comfortable and could be myself.”
Aside from the typical broadcaster’s battle reading the disclaimer — who says “disseminate” anyway? — and forgetting to hit the talk-back button when the producer asked him to make a certain point in the first inning, Hunter came through just fine.
“I thought it was God,” he said. “I heard that voice in my ear, and I said, ‘OK.’ ”
Now a special assistant in baseball operations, Hunter has a 12-game package as TV analyst that will include this weekend series against the Tigers. There was no practice telecast with venerable play-by-play man Dick Bremer, in his 34th season calling Twins games.
“That would have been weird,” said Hunter, who gave himself a “C” grade for his debut. “I just watched every game. I went straight from the golf course to the booth.”
He used main analyst Bert Blyleven’s telestrator to circle a family celebrating a birthday, but Hunter is still getting the hang of drawing on the screen along with so many other parts of the job. Allen, a former big-league outfielder and minor-league coach who has known Hunter since his days playing in the Midwest League, sees big things for the charismatic ex-player.
“He’s going to be good at it, there’s no doubt about that,” said Allen, who will serve as primary TV analyst for 102 Tigers games plus another 30 on the studio side. “He’s been broadcasting forever. He’s been in front of the microphone. You guys have always gone to him for sound bites. He’s always been a great interview. That’s probably why all the other networks want him to do TV too.”
Facing Tigers lefty Matt Boyd set off a chain reaction that led to Miguel Sano getting a second career start at first base in place of Joe Mauer on Saturday.
That came roughly 15 hours after one of the finest defensive games of Sano’s young career at his natural position of third base.
“He’s been playing really well at third,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I really don’t want to move him. I don’t have a big heart or desire to do that, but it’s just the way it worked out.”
Sano made a pair of off-balance throws to first in Friday’s 6-3 win. After nabbing speedy Jacoby Jones on a slow roller down the line in the fourth, Sano got Justin Upton to end the eighth on a chopper past the mound.
“Those were beautiful plays,” Molitor said. “The athleticism for a big man continues to impress. Those are tough plays. Not only do you have to eliminate the panic but trust your hands. You know he’s got the arm to finish the play with. I think he’s getting more confident in his defense.”
Reports on infielder Ehire Adrianza (oblique) were good in his first rehab game at Class A Fort Myers, where he banged out three hits and stole a base while going the distance at shortstop on Friday. Molitor said it’s “probable” Adrianza would need to make a stop at a higher level before the Twins would return him from a rehab assignment that could last as long as 20 days. Adrianza is out of options.