During Orioles FanFest, pitcher Tommy Hunter spoke with the media for a few minutes, and I’ll say that he’s one of the funnier, candid and more laid back athletes I’ve met on the team.
It was certainly a delight to interview him, and he seemed very much ready for camp to open up towards the middle of this month.
As we know, Tommy is a big boy – as he is currently listed at over 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds. However, over the offseason, he lost about 20 pounds (so far) and looks somewhat smaller thanks to workouts and training with Brady Anderson out West.
He updated everyone on his workouts, status heading into Spring Training, his experiences with the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and outlook for the season.
Here are some quotes and notes I was able to pick up from him.
On his workouts and training with Brady Anderson – who was recently named to a special assistant position with the Baltimore Orioles – in the offseason:
Um, they’re intense. I mean, um -- it’s something different; something that you know, I guess it will be good. Anything that doesn’t kill you only makes you better.
A lot of running, lifting, and trying to get strong and make to it 230 innings, 260, 67, I don’t care, I don’t care; as long as we play in October, I’m up for anything. It’s an uphill battle and a challenge we’re all ready for.
It kind of involved, a whole bunch of … trying to take the best from every sport. We did power lifting, the strongest athlete, his (Brady Anderson) whole thing is trying to combine everything to make a supreme being (long pause) – um, that’s a joke.
You know a lot of power lifting, track, and explosion; um, because every time we throw a ball, it’s not kind. It’s a lot quick exertion, then we rest, and you then you do it again; so, we try to emulate that in these workouts.
It’s a lot of strength, and then boom … you go after it. It’s a lot of quick exercises and trying to get better – I don’t know.
On his experience in the Texas starting rotation and outlook on pitching:
Well, it’s a hard staff to make. I made it – twice, actually. I consider that being really cool to make a staff when it’s tough to make it.
Unfortunately, I had an injury – they filled a spot, and they didn’t need me anymore. Now I have a new opportunity, a new chance to come over here and prove myself once again.
About the American League East and expectations with the Orioles:
It’s a tough league, tough division; I’m up for a challenge. Baseball is tough and everybody in the big leagues is good; we’re here for a reason. It’s going to be fun, going to be an interesting year and hopefully we can mess things up again.
About the competition for jobs in Spring Training in the rotation and goals:
If there was not competition, we would not be here. I’m mean, it one of those things – we thrive on it. Um, we are athletes, and we don’t like to lose. It’s fun; it’s a bunch of guys going to after one job.
At the end of the day, we’re all friends; we’re all rooting each other on, because we have a common goal – to bring a championship here and bring it back. I hope to be a part of it.
About how his offseason workouts with Anderson will help him this season:
Well, my whole thing is staying healthy. If I can stay healthy, I’m going to help a team.
Specifically, for a pitch or anything like that, I don’t think it has much to do with it. I think it’s all in your mind and all about the confidence on the mound – thinking you’re better than everyone else. So it’s going to help endurance-wise; it’s going to help to keep me healthy and keep me strong throughout the year, and also in September – and October.
His experience in Texas, being traded to the Orioles and finishing last season year strong:
I didn’t throw well at all. I didn’t … I came into – oh man, it was tough. It was rough at the beginning and it was a transition, I was in the bullpen for a month and half with Texas, and then coming back into starting – it was tough.
I mean, I can’t tell you it was an easy thing, but it is an excuse. That’s all it was. I didn’t throw well enough to win. Towards the end of the year, I got more comfortable starting, started getting back into the groove of a starting pitcher.
My last couple of starts were a lot better and something to end the year strong, especially on being a team bring the way we ended it. Being probably the most exciting baseball day ever – it’s a good argument, it was a fun day.
About his current shape now and staying healthy during the season:
I’m a little lighter; hopefully that keeps me healthy. I mean that’s what we’re trying to think about. In the long run, staying healthy and being strong. I’m little lighter and a lot better looking, I guess.
Similarities he see with the rise of Texas over the past few years and the current state of the Orioles:
In 2007, when I was drafted by Texas, they were in a similar situation. It was not, um … they had a lot of obstacles in front of them, and they put it together over there. Hopefully we’re trying to do the same thing here. So, in three years, we went to being a non-contender to being in the World Series. What’s wrong with it, and why can’t we do that here?
I’ve been part of something like that once, so why not try it again – and why not do it?