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Torii Hunter Jr. replaced Mike Trout with his dad watching

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In his final season with the Angels, Torii Hunter took a young outfielder named Mike Trout under his wing and mentored the highly touted prospect over the course of his first full year in the big leagues.

The two haven't played together since 2012, but on Sunday, Trout shared the field with another Hunter -- Torii Hunter Jr.

The son of the beloved former Angels outfielder made his Cactus League debut in the Halos' 11-2 loss to the White Sox at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Fittingly, Hunter Jr. entered the game in the sixth inning to pinch-run for Trout and subsequently remained in the game at center field.

It was a special moment for his father, who stopped by Angels camp in the morning and was in attendance for the game.


"It's cool. This is where I was adopted, and I love my family out here," said the elder Hunter, who retired in 2015 and is now a special assistant for the Twins. "Just to see [Hunter Jr.] come here, I know he's in good hands. To pinch-run for Mike Trout, it's a sentimental moment, and it's something that I'll never forget. For me, I was just upstairs kind of just like, 'I just can't believe this boy is wearing an Angels uniform.'"

Hunter Jr., a 23rd-round Draft pick of the Angels in 2016 out of the University of Notre Dame, went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. The 21-year-old was better known as a wide receiver for the Fighting Irish, but he resumed playing baseball as a sophomore and junior in college and impressed the Angels with his raw athleticism and defense.

He said it wasn't difficult to choose baseball over football, especially after suffering a concussion in September.

"I'm not crazy enough to play this sport," Hunter Jr. said. "It knocked some sense into me. I woke up and was like, 'I'm done with this.'"

Hunter Jr. said he only found out that he would be playing with the Angels' Major League squad on Sunday morning while he was in the weight room.

"One of the other guys was like, 'Hey man, you're backing up today,' and I was like, 'Oh, I guess this is real. I guess this is the real deal,'" Hunter Jr. said. "I came in and saw my jersey in the locker, and I knew it was time to go. It was just a great opportunity, coming up from Minor League camp and just being able to work with these guys for one day. It was awesome."

Manager Mike Scioscia said it's unlikely Hunter Jr. will make any more Cactus League appearances this spring, as he needs to accumulate more at-bats on the Minor League side.

"This was kind of a special deal, and we wanted to get a look at him," Scioscia said. "He just needs to go down there and play every day. He's a young, raw kid, but he's got tremendous tools."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.