The Twins center fielder arrived to camp a day early on Thursday, ready to embark on a fresh season. Recovery from the injury hasn't been a breeze for Hunter. He spent nearly 4 1/2 hours a day from September until the early part of January working with two trainers on both rehabilitation and strength training.
The increase in activity during the offseason also meant a bit of weight loss for Hunter, who dropped all the way down to 209 pounds, a weight he said he hadn't seen since his time in Double-A back in 1996. He is now at 218 pounds and expects to drop back to around 212 for the season.
"That's a good playing weight," Hunter said. "I haven't been 212 for the past five years."
Hunter got a head start on the weight loss as he took part in the team workout for position players Thursday, and despite the little bit of expected pain, everything went over smoothly. Well, as much as it can for a veteran who joked that the years of camp may be catching up to him.
"That seems like more than we've ever done in camp on the first day," said Hunter, while a little out of breath. "And this isn't even the first full day."
Even a little bit of pain couldn't hurt the extra enthusiasm that Hunter brings to camp this year. While he has never been one to take baseball for granted, the time spent sitting at home and having to watch his teammates play without him brought him a greater appreciation for the sport.
"When I got hurt I told myself I don't want to retire anytime soon, because while I was sitting at home, I was so sad," Hunter said. "I was missing the game. It let me know how much I loved this game. I don't think anybody besides [Jason] Kubel, who's been hurt, is more anxious to get to Spring Training and start baseball than me."
Bring on the arms:
The number of pitchers in Twins camp has been increasing by the day.
With the news that Francisco Liriano likely will be heading to camp for the Dominican Republic, the Twins added another arm to camp. Last year's first-round draft pick, right-hander Matt Garza, joined the Twins' Major League camp on Thursday.
Garza spent the majority of last season with Class A Beloit, going 3-3 with a 3.54 ERA in 10 games. Garza's addition brings the number of pitchers in camp to 27. It is likely that Garza won't be the last addition for the Twins, either.
"We're probably going to add even one more pitcher," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're just trying to protect ourselves from these World [Baseball Classic] games. You need to have 20-plus pitchers here."
Vote for fall:
If there is one Twins player who isn't afraid to share his sentiments on something, it's Hunter.
On Thursday, he voiced his thoughts on the World Baseball Classic. Hunter made it known that he didn't like the event due to the large amount of time and players it was taking away from team's camp, which is usually a time for team bonding.
"A different time of the year would help," Hunter said. "Two weeks after the World Series, like the time they usually do the Japanese All-Star tour. When I played in it, we didn't get out of shape and it was early enough that when we got done with that, we still had a lot of time to kick back."
Sprint to the finish:
Thursday's workout was cut a little short due to the fact that the team was participating in a charity golf outing that afternoon.
The team's annual celebrity golf tournament was set to begin at 12:30 p.m. ET. Twins players, coaches and former players will participate in the eighth annual tournament, which raises money for Lee Cancer Care.
Combining a shortened workout with a chance to play some golf didn't sound like too bad of an idea to Nick Punto.
"These things are always a great time," said Punto, an avid golfer. "It's always nice to get out on the course and have a little bit of added competition between the guys. Hopefully one of our teams wins."
Juan Castro was another early arrival to camp for the Twins. With him and Hunter showing up on Thursday, the only position players on the team's 40-man roster that have yet to arrive are Tony Batista, Luis Castillo and Shannon Stewart. Spring Training non-roster invite Ruben Sierra is also still missing. Position players are required to report on Friday. ... Left-handed pitcher Jose Mijares arrived at the Twins facility Thursday and participated in his first workout. Mijares had been absent the first few days of camp due to a missed flight in his home country of Venezuela.