Torii makes pitch to bring Hanrahan aboard

Torii makes pitch to bring Hanrahan aboard

KANSAS CITY -- There are no recruiting coordinators in Major League Baseball. If there were, Torii Hunter might have a side job.

When the Tigers signed Joe Nathan last November, Nathan gave credit to Hunter for relentlessly keeping in touch with him about Detroit and its strengths. On Friday, Joel Hanrahan did much the same.

"I had a good recruiter in Torii Hunter," Hanrahan said. "He's a good friend of mine. We stayed in touch this offseason."

Hunter initially played dumb, then admitted to it. He not only sold Hanrahan on the clubhouse and the opportunity, but Hunter put in a good word with the Tigers about the reliever.

"I was trying to keep it discreet," Hunter said. "I know he'll be a good fit. He's a bulldog. He had that closer mentality with Pittsburgh. He just didn't get that opportunity with Boston. I worked out with him this offseason and for the last seven years, and I know the mentality that he has. He wanted to come over here and win and play, kind of learn a little more from Joe Nathan."

Hanrahan and Hunter have worked out together at some point for the last seven offseasons in the Dallas area, and they share the same agent, Larry Reynolds. When Hanrahan began throwing again just before Spring Training, Hunter said, he stood in the box to give him a reference point and see his pitches.

"He was throwing pretty good," Hunter said, "and that was two, three months ago. Obviously, he's got his velocity back up. He can go down to Lakeland [Fla.], have a Spring Training, come back and help us win."

Hunter kept in touch with Hanrahan after that, including following his showcase workout for teams. Hunter also got in touch with the Tigers, who had already been scouting Hanrahan and other free-agent pitchers' throwing workouts.

"I just threw it out there to Dave [president/general manager Dombrowski]," Hunter said.

Not all of Hunter's recruiting works out. Among the Major Leaguers who have worked out with Hunter and Hanrahan over the years is longtime Major Leaguer LaTroy Hawkins. He, too, was a free agent this past winter. When asked if he made a recruiting pitch to Hawkins, Hunter simply smiled and looked away.

The one thing Hunter couldn't sell to Hawkins was a closer's job, something the Rockies could. Considering the 41-year-old Hawkins entered Friday with nine saves, he made a pretty good choice.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.