"You can't tell in BP where you are," Hunter said, referring to batting practice. "In BP, I'm Reggie Jackson. In a game, I might be Janet Jackson."
The team's reigning jokester, having appointed Chone Figgins as Vice President Biden after the third baseman began calling him "Obama" for his attraction to the media, Hunter is eager to regain his forum as the team's mouthpiece -- and centerpiece.
"Defensively, it doesn't bother me at all -- even when I was hurting," he said of the adductor muscle that became the focus of his pain after crashing into walls at Dodger Stadium and AT&T Park in San Francisco. "I was swinging the bat all right. It was more running the bases than anything.
"After a month of pain, it caught up with me."
Hunter was batting .314 when he ran into the wall at Dodger Stadium on May 24, robbing Matt Kemp of extra bases. He was up to .319 when he crashed into the wall in San Francisco on June 15 with an 8-0 lead, having to leave the game with multiple aches and pains.
Returning just two days later, Hunter played 18 games, up to July 7, before finally caving in to the pain in his right side and going to the DL for the first time since 2006 and the fifth time in his career.
A Gold Glove winner eight seasons running with a ninth on the way, Hunter is batting .305 with 17 homers and 65 RBIs, ranking among the AL leaders with a .558 slugging percentage.
In Hunter's absence, Gary Matthews Jr. has excelled defensively and has contributed with the bat. Over the past 20 games, the Angels winning 17, Matthews has raised his average from .223 to .245.
Matthews is a different hitter with runners on base, batting .301 overall. He's a .349 hitter with runners in scoring position and is batting .455 with two outs and runners in scoring position.