Grateful for support, Hunter returns to Angels
Halos may wait until at least Tuesday to activate outfielder
ANAHEIM -- A confusing, scary, embarrassing couple of weeks led Torii Hunter and Darius McClinton-Hunter to a movie theater in Texas on Friday. It was there that the two took in "The Avengers" and, for at least a couple hours, tried to put aside the drama surrounding the 17-year-old son of the Angels' outfielder.
At last, Hunter saw a smile from his boy.
"That was the first smile I had seen in the last two weeks," Hunter said.
And that, in essence, let Hunter know that it was safe to go back to work. After being on the restricted list since May 14 -- to be with a scared teenager dealing with sexual-assault charges the family has denied -- Hunter returned to the Angels shortly thereafter.
"Through all this stuff, my family and I, we got a little closer," Hunter said from the Angels' dugout on Monday. "We were able to talk a lot, and the last couple days, they seemed like they were doing a lot better and I felt like they could handle it from there."
Hunter arrived in Anaheim on Sunday afternoon and took batting practice on the field before the series opener against the Yankees on Memorial Day, but the Angels will wait at least a day to activate him. Hunter has been running and hitting in the batting cage in the backyard of his Prosper, Texas, home, but he needs a little more time to get acclimated.
"We'll assess him a little bit later today and see how he feels tomorrow, with a possibility of playing," said manager Mike Scioscia, whose club headed into a nine-game homestand riding a six-game winning streak. "If not, we'll let him continue to work out until he feels he's physically where he needs to be to get back in the lineup."
Hunter got the call on a Monday morning -- shortly after returning from a weekend set against the Rangers and before opening up a home series against the Athletics -- that his son was in trouble. He had just been arrested, along with four others, on suspicions of child sexual assault, which is a second-degree felony.
About two hours later, Hunter was on a flight back home.
The decision was an easy one.
"If I'm going to call myself the head of the household, I should be there for my family when they need me," Hunter said. "I sacrifice a lot for baseball, so why not sacrifice the same for my family? That's what I want to do. I love them more than baseball -- and I love this game.
"I want to thank the fans, you guys, for all your support, all your prayers, because they've definitely been worth it. And I thank the organization for allowing me to go home and be with my family."
For legal reasons, Hunter couldn't go into much detail about the matter, but he said "everything's positive" back home and McClinton-Hunter is now "doing great."
Hunter's attorneys said last week that the accuser, a 16-year-old girl, recanted everything she previously told police in a phone conversation with a close family friend of the Hunters, who recorded the exchange. That evidence has since been turned over to the department.
"I have to let the justice system play its part," Hunter said. "Hopefully this thing gets dropped, but we're ready to go to court no matter what."
Hunter watched almost all of the 14 games the Angels played without him the last two weeks. He was tempted to come back when Vernon Wells (right thumb surgery) and Ryan Langerhans (separated right shoulder) landed on the disabled list during a May 20 game against the Padres but knew it wasn't time yet.
Now, Hunter is back at what he calls his "safe haven."
"When I come out here for three hours," Hunter said, "I don't have to think about anything. I'm thinking about winning, playing the game, battling on the field with all my teammates and I really don't think about much. Just winning."
Weaver to get MRI on back after exiting early
ANAHEIM -- Angels ace Jered Weaver hurt his lower back early in his start against the Yankees on Monday night, leaving after 12 pitches and nursing a lot of pain shortly after the Angels' walk-off, 9-8 victory at Angel Stadium.
The extent of the injury is still unknown. The team will wait until Weaver undergoes an X-ray and MRI on Tuesday before deciding whether he'll need to go on the disabled list.
"I really don't have any answers right now," Weaver said. "I've just got to wait for those MRIs and X-rays to come back. We'll keep our fingers crossed."
So will the rest of this team, which extended its season-high winning streak to seven games and can ill afford to lose its best starting pitcher. If Weaver does go on the shelf, the Angels could call up young righty Garrett Richards from Triple-A Salt Lake (though he has a 6.30 ERA in May) or perhaps get in on veteran free agent Roy Oswalt (but that would depend on his price tag).
The Angels will "most likely" be calling up a pitcher on Tuesday regardless, manager Mike Scioscia said, considering the bullpen just accounted for nine innings and the club hasn't had a day off since May 10.
But as of late Monday night, they were keeping their options open with Weaver, who could be helped by a Thursday off-day.
"We won't know that far yet," said Weaver, who felt the pain on the lower part of his right side. "I'll wait for the results tomorrow and go from there."
Weaver has never really dealt with back pain much, but his good friend, Dan Haren, has. Haren has been dealing with some stiffness in his back throughout the year, but he doesn't have as much torque in his delivery as Weaver -- and an MRI could reveal a bulging disk for Weaver.
"I can't really bend over too much," Weaver said. "Muscle relaxer's helping a little bit, but like I said, I've never had something like that happen before, so it was pretty painful. No doubt about it."
Weaver, who's 6-1 with a 2.61 ERA in a year that has seen him throw a no-hitter, didn't have any pain coming out of the bullpen for his start. But on his 12th pitch of the game, a 1-0 fastball to Yankees cleanup hitter Robinson Cano, he felt a pronounced pinch in his lower back.
"It felt like somebody came up behind me and stabbed me," Weaver said. "I couldn't bend over."
Weaver was checked on by Angels trainers and could barely throw a warm-up pitch, then came right out of the game, hobbling back to the dugout and making way for Bobby Cassevah to come out of the bullpen.
"Very disappointing," Weaver said. "You get motivated for games like this and to have that happen so early in the game, it's just disappointing."
Angels honor veterans on Memorial Day
ANAHEIM -- The Angels joined all of Major League Baseball, and the entire nation, in honoring the veterans who have fought for this country on Memorial Day.
Prior to Monday's series opener against the Yankees, a giant American flag was unveiled in the outfield, followed by a flyover during the signing of the national anthem.
Honored on-field was the family of U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Oscar Jimenez, who lost his life in Iraq on Easter Sunday in 2004, during a counter-attack in Al Anbar Province. Jimenez -- who left behind his wife, daughter and two sons -- served in the Marine Corps Reserve for nine years, became a commissioned officer in '01 and was deployed to Iraq for a third time in '03, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif.
One of his sons, Oscar, threw the ceremonial first pitch to Angels outfielder Torii Hunter.
Then, both teams took the field with military-camouflage logos on their Stars & Stripes caps. Net proceeds from the sale of these special caps are donated to Welcome Back Veterans, a program that addresses the needs of returning American veterans and their families.
LaTroy Hawkins (broken pinkie) could work his way into a Minor League rehab game this week. Ryan Langerhans (separated shoulder) played catch on the field Monday, while Vernon Wells (thumb surgery) stayed back in Texas.
The Angels' seven-game winning streak is their longest since they won eight straight July 18-25, 2009.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.