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Hunter having Gold Glove-caliber year in right field

Hunter having Gold Glove-caliber year in right field

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Hunter having Gold Glove-caliber year in right field
ANAHEIM -- It's not paramount in his thinking -- he's all about winning and finding a way into the postseason -- but Torii Hunter admittedly would be thrilled to add a 10th Gold Glove to his collection this season. "No doubt, slam dunk," manager Mike Scioscia said Saturday when asked whether Hunter is worthy of his first Gold Glove as a right fielder after claiming nine as a center fielder.

Managers and coaches select the Gold Glove winners, and they have watched Hunter make a seamless transition to right after patrolling center for 12 years. He moved over for the final two months of the 2010 season with the arrival of Peter Bourjos in center, and has been superb in right this season alongside another Gold Glove candidate, Mike Trout.

"All I'm thinking about is tonight's game," Hunter said before going out to face southpaw Jose Quintana and the White Sox. "But if you're asking me if I'd like to win another Gold Glove, of course I would. I think I've played well out there. I feel like a right fielder now, like it's where I belong. I'm really enjoying myself, now that I've got my legs back under me. It was a struggle for a while."

Nick Markakis of the Orioles claimed the 2011 Gold Glove for AL right fielders. Hunter, a Gold Glove winner for nine consecutive seasons from 2001-2009, has a higher defensive WAR (wins above replacement) than Markakis, the Royals' Jeff Francoeur and the Athletics' Josh Reddick, the other leading contenders.

Since the All-Star break, Hunter is hitting .340, tied with teammate Erick Aybar for third best in the AL. Hunter is hitting .379 in his past 22 games and is at .305 for the year with 15 homers and 83 RBIs. He hit a career-best .299 in 2009, falling one hit short of .300.

Hunter had a sports hernia procedure following that 2009 season, having crashed into walls at Dodger Stadium and in San Francisco that caused lingering hip and groin pain. It took him about a season and a half to return to full strength after the surgery.

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