Hunter jokes with O's before, after trade

Reliever sent to Cubs at Deadline for outfielder Lake

Hunter jokes with O's before, after trade

BALTIMORE -- Tommy Hunter was joking with reporters around Friday's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline, making a beeline for manager Buck Showalter's locker only to turn around and burst out laughing at reporters' reactions.

Several minutes later, the joke became reality as news broke on social media that Hunter was headed to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Minor League outfielder Junior Lake.

"I told [fellow reliever] Darren O'Day we really can't play catch till 4:05, that four- or five-minute grace period. At 4:03 he came in and asked me and I was like, 'I don't know, they might have just taken a couple guys off their Triple-A roster,'" said Hunter, who had been rumored in trade talks in the days leading up to the Deadline, rumors that persisted Friday afternoon. "And then I saw all of your pretty faces [in the media] again around my locker."

The always gregarious Hunter, with the Orioles since mid-2011, said he dropped some jokes in with his teammates when saying farewell and acknowledged that being traded once before -- from Texas -- helped prepare him for Friday's news. Hunter, who goes back to his Texas days with O'Day and Chris Davis, said the toughest part may be for his wife, Ellen, who is 7 1/2 months pregnant with the couple's first child. He planned on going home Friday to talk with her and wasn't sure when he'd be traveling to meet the Cubs.

"Tommy never has a bad day," manager Buck Showalter said. "A very infectious personality and he could pitch. ... He makes it easier with how upbeat he is about it. He was picking us up in there. I know [for coaches] Dom [Chiti] and Dave [Wallace] and I, it's tough. You go through the battles that you go through together, the ups and downs, it's tough to not have that there. There are some other things that it does for the organization."

First, it frees up some salary as the Cubs will take on the remainder of Hunter's contract. It also allows the O's to gain some bullpen flexibility, with the club adding both Mychal Givens and Mike Wright -- who both have Minor League options remaining -- to the 'pen for Friday. Lake will report to Triple-A Norfolk.

Hunter, a free agent at season's end, also didn't rule out a return to Baltimore next year.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.