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Torii Hunter wants to retire an Angel

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When Los Angeles Angels right fielder Torii Hunter was batting .225 back in mid-June and dealing with a painful injury to his right quadriceps, he said he contemplated retiring after his contract expires in the fall of 2012.

Now, he wants to continue playing -- as long as it's in Anaheim.

"I'll retire an Angel no matter what, whether they give me an extension or whether it's next year," Hunter said. "This is the only place I want to play. I'm not going anywhere."

Hunter, 36, said the injury to his leg sapped him of his ability to run and put him on a trajectory to break Jim Rice's American League record for double plays grounded into. But Hunter entered Tuesday batting .310 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs, lifting his average 40 points in the process, since June 15. Hunter said he received cortisone injections near the end of spring training and in early July, but that the pain persisted most of the season.

"Since I've been hitting, nobody's said anything about my age," Hunter said. "My body was going through some pain and I was fighting it, pushing it, wanted to be in the lineup. I wanted my players to see me in the lineup, but I think it hurt the team and myself, actually."

Hunter first revealed his plans to retire as an Angel to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He signed with the Minnesota Twins out of high school and broke into the major leagues with them in 1997. He signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Angels before the 2008 season.

The Angels already have a crowded outfield, with Hunter, Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu all signed beyond this season and youngsters Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout emerging as potential stars. Next year, it could be even more complicated if Kendrys Morales returns and moves Rookie of the Year candidate Mark Trumbo to the outfield.

Hunter, who has full no-trade protection, said he is not interested in playing for a big-market contender on the East Coast.

"I really don't like the Beasts of the East," Hunter said. "I really don't want to be the Evil Empire, because I didn't like them for so long."

Hunter said he will sit back after this season and discuss his plans with his family. Hunter lives in the Dallas area with his wife and three teenage sons.

"My kids and everybody want me to retire. They don't care about any baseball," Hunter said. "My Team Hunter is all I care about."

Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com.