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Hunter's rehab assignment set back

Hunter's rehab assignment set back

CHICAGO -- After a strength test on Wednesday showed that his right side is not as strong as his left in his recovery from a right adductor muscle strain, Torii Hunter has been forced to alter his plans to play Minor League rehab games at Little Rock in his home state for the Double-A Arkansas Travelers this weekend.

"This has been a rough day," Hunter said. "I was all psyched to go home to Arkansas and play for the Travelers ... but today I didn't pass a strength test after a strenuous workout on the field, and it doesn't look like I'll be able to make it home.

"I know everyone in Little Rock was excited about me coming back to play, and I was excited, too. It would have been great. But the resistance test the training staff put me through showed that my right side, where I have the adductor strain, is still not as strong as the left side.

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"They want me to be close to 100 percent when I come back, and I'm probably between 85 and 90 right now."

There is no new target date for Hunter's return to the field. He'll be with the team in Anaheim on Friday night and continue his rehab work.

Hunter said he could play now, and it wouldn't impact him defensively or swinging the bat. The only possible issue could be with running the bases and possibly aggravating the adductor muscle.

"I've never been 100 percent my whole career, so I don't even know what that feels like," Hunter said. "I'm used to playing no matter what, which is why, in a way, I'm in this situation now.

"Looking back, I should have taken more time off after I ran into the wall in San Francisco on June 15. I played two days later, and it was too soon. If I could do it all over again, I would have asked for more time off, but it's too late now."

Hunter feels a week off would have been enough to get him back in game shape after he crashed into the wall at AT&T Park with the Angels leading the Giants by eight runs.

"That's what they're fighting right now -- my ego and pride," Hunter said. "They're telling me to set it aside and let this heal completely. We're winning, so there's no need for me to force it or rush it. I understand that. But I'm an athlete, and athletes burn to compete.

"The plan now is for me to go back to Anaheim and continue my rehab there this weekend. It's not really a setback. But it's disappointing for me, because I want to get out there.

"I wanted to go to Arkansas and play there, but it looks like they'll be on the road when it's time for me to play some rehab games."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Hunter "had a great workout today and is moving along. When he's going to be ready to play is hard to say. He ran the bases aggressively, hit. He took a big step today."

Right up until the strength test delivered the bad news.

"I ran the bases well, first to third, and ran out of the batter's box," Hunter said. "I felt good. But the test showed I'm still a little weaker on the right side than the left."

Hunter has been on the disabled list since July 10 and hasn't played since July 7. He is batting .305 with 17 homers and 65 RBIs.

"I was swinging the bat really well at that time," he said, referring to the incident in San Francisco that came about three weeks after he crashed into a wall at Dodger Stadium on May 22. "I was raking, and I didn't want to come out.

"But with the injury, I wasn't able to turn on my back leg -- I was just using my hands. That's when you get in bad habits. That's when I said I needed to step back for a while."

The Angels have gone 18-4 in Hunter's absence, going into Wednesday's game. Vladimir Guerrero, also out since July 7 with a muscle strain behind his left knee, returned to the lineup as the Angels' designated hitter on Tuesday night and went 1-for-3 with a walk. "It's not easy to sit around, not playing every day and then to go out and do it, and he's been getting the job done in center field for us."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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