Hunter seeks return to All-Star Game

Hunter seeks return to All-Star Game

Eight consecutive Rawlings Gold Glove Awards. A powerful presence in the heart of the batting order with a penchant for driving in runs in clutch situations. Clubhouse leadership with few equals.

This is the resume of a formidable All-Star Game candidate, Angels center fielder Torii Hunter.

Hunter, an American League All-Star in 2002 and 2007 with the Twins, is bringing it all to the table again in his second season with the Angels, delivering an all-purpose game.

When he isn't driving in runs with shots to the gaps and over the walls, he's saving them with his legs, knowledge and controlled aggression in center field. When he isn't lifting a teammate's spirits with his unique brand of humor, he's offering wise counsel from the heart.

Hunter is one of eight Angels players on the All-Star ballot, joining catcher Mike Napoli, first baseman Kendry Morales, second baseman Howard Kendrick, shortstop Erick Aybar, third baseman Chone Figgins and fellow outfielders Bobby Abreu and Vladimir Guerrero.

"It's an honor if you make it with the fans and other players voting," Hunter said. "You get rewarded by going to the All-Star Game, the Midsummer Classic. There's been a lot of history in that game and even for me as a kid I watched all of it on TV. So to get chosen is a blessing and an honor."

Hunter, who is off to a hot start this season by hitting a team-high five home runs and nine RBIs along with a .310 batting average, said he'd be thrilled to represent the Angels at this season's Midsummer Classic, but that it's not his only goal.

"Being an All-Star with the Angels would be something I would love," Hunter said. "But my main goal is to win no matter what. If I don't get chosen, at least I can say I was an All-Star."

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until July 2 at 8:59 p.m. PT.

Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on July 5. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote at MLB.com.

And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote at MLB.com.

The All-Star Game, which will be played on July 14 at Busch Stadium, will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

Guerrero, an eight-time All-Star, played only eight games, all as a designated hitter, before going to the 15-day disabled list on April 18 with a torn right pectoral muscle. He is out indefinitely.

Helping pick up the slack for Guerrero, Abreu jumped off to a sizzling start, showing he has lost none of his knack for the big hits or quality play in the move to the West Coast. Abreu is a two-time All-Star, having made it in 2004 and 2005 with the Phillies.

Abreu has positive memories of his time as an All-Star because of the chance to mingle with some of the top players in the game.

"It's nice to be around the guys," said Abreu, who won the 2005 Home Run Derby. "Just to talk to them for a while and make friends. It's a great group because you'll be around Cy Young winners and MVPs. It's a real honor."

And, like Hunter, Abreu would love to represent the Angels this season after the club didn't send any position players to the All-Star Game last season.

"I'd like to make it," Abreu said. "I'm just going to keep doing my thing and hopefully my numbers will stay there and I'll make it."

Figgins, enjoying another high-caliber season as a leadoff catalyst and superb defender at third, would be making his first All-Star Game appearance if selected. All the other Angels on the ballot have yet to appear in an All-Star Game.

Lyle Spencer and Rhett Bollinger are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.