David Ortiz and Torii Hunter are the same age, 34, and broke into the big leagues together on the Minnesota Twins in the late 1990s.
ESPNLA has a feature running about Hunter's out-going personality and how Major League Baseball is taking advantage of it this week at its All-Star festivities, but I figured it was worth quoting Ortiz at more length. I asked him today about comments attributed to Hunter by USA Today in which he called dark-skinned Latin players "imposters," and that they don't represent African-Americans.
At times, Ortiz's voice seemed to catch as he talked.
"I know my man Torii," Ortiz said. "He’s not trying to embarrass any of us as Latin players. I grew up playing with Torii. We came up through the Minnesota system. Toriii might be one best African-American players in terms of having relationships with us Latin players, you know what I’m saying? I got the idea. The thing is there are people that twist things around and send the wrong message. I know that.
"Whoever knows Torii knows that Torii is one of the coolest guys out there, one of the most friendly person in the game and everybody loves Torii."
But won't many fans only know Hunter for the comments, since they don't have access to him personally?
"I doubt it," Ortiz said. "When I see people just changing against someone because of the fact they just heard a comment and they're not sure what the situation is, it just kind of hurts me. That's not the way it's supposed to be. If you hear something negative coming from someone, you should go search for it and find out what the deal is then make your decision. Torii is a guy who has done nothing but good things all the way around, as long as he's played baseball.
"Torii comes from a pretty good family. He's a very loyal person. There's no reason people start start hitting on him just because of that confusion."