Hunter Jr. set to play baseball for Notre Dame

Son of Major League outfielder also plays wide receiver on football team

Hunter Jr. set to play baseball for Notre Dame

Torii Hunter Jr. grew up playing baseball. That should come as no surprise since his father is Twins outfielder and five-time All-Star Torii Hunter, but Hunter Jr., now a sophomore wide receiver at Notre Dame, had not played the sport competitively since his junior year of high school.

Injuries had forced him to focus only on football, and his scholarship was for football. His love for baseball, however, never went away, and on Friday, Hunter Jr. announced that he would join Notre Dame's baseball team for the 2015 season.

"Growing up, I played a lot of baseball because of who my dad is," the sophomore Hunter Jr. told the team's website. "I wanted to continue it after high school even though I received a football scholarship."

Hunter Jr. always had intentions of playing baseball in college, but he broke his femur near the end of his senior football season -- forcing him to miss the baseball season. That injury sidelined him in football and baseball as a freshman in college.

Now having fully recovered, Hunter Jr. is ready to return to the diamond.

The Irish began their season in Norman, Okla., on Friday, although Hunter Jr. did not appear in either of the games. Some of his Fighting Irish teammates include Conor and Cavan Biggio, the sons of 2015 Hall of Fame inductee Craig Biggio.

Hunter Jr. is expected to get a shot at playing time in the outfield for Notre Dame, which finished 22-31 last season, including 9-21 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"Torii wanted to play baseball again, and we had some roster space, so we wanted to see where this could go," Notre Dame baseball coach Mik Aoki said in a statement. "People will need to have a little bit of patience. This is a kid that, between his focus on football and a catastrophic injury as a senior in high school, hadn't touched a bat in three years prior to the last few weeks. He needs a little bit of time to see where this might be able to lead him."

During that junior season in high school, Hunter Jr. hit .393 with six home runs, 27 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.

"Even when we watched him in high school, he was a kid that could go get the ball in the outfield," Aoki said. "I think he could provide game-changing type speed on the bases in terms of looking to steal, going first to third, first to home, that sort of stuff."

Hunter Jr. is the latest Notre Dame athlete to play both football and baseball -- a list that includes White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija, Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate and former Irish quarterback Evan Sharpley. Pat Connaughton, a forward on the school's basketball team, was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft by the Orioles.

"I'm no expert in baseball, but I would think Torii could certainly field," said Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly. "He's someone that has an ability to track the ball very well. He is very fluid as an athlete and can really run."

Jamal Collier is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.