Hunter refutes Sun-Times report
Free-agent outfielder says impending signing 'not true'
CHICAGO -- Torii Hunter's affinity for all things White Sox has been well documented over the past few months, from the impressive condition of U.S. Cellular Field's playing field to the ballpark's leaping-friendly outfield fence to working for manager Ozzie Guillen.
But reports out of Chicago that Hunter could soon make Chicago his home as the team's marquee free-agent acquisition might be a bit premature. Citing sources from both the White Sox and from Hunter's camp, the Sun-Times reported on Monday that the two sides could be signing a contract within the week.
Hunter didn't exactly second that notion in a text message to MLB.com late Monday night.
"Not true," said the affable All-Star when asked to confirm Monday's news.
Just because Hunter didn't acknowledge an impending deal with the White Sox doesn't mean he couldn't eventually wind up on the South Side for the next five years or so. The Sun-Times mentioned that Hunter had met with the White Sox twice over the past two weeks, getting the financial parameters for a deal during the second meeting.
Monday's acquisition of shortstop Orlando Cabrera continued general manager Ken Williams' quest to build a World Series contender immediately in 2008 through the addition of quality players who fit well with one another as a team, a process that began with the in-season signing of such key returning players as Mark Buehrle, Jermaine Dye and A.J. Pierzynski. It also was a move that freed up potential money that could be put toward Hunter, a signing that would further strengthen the White Sox up the middle.
Though Williams sounded hopeful that the Cabrera acquisition could be just the first major move for his team this week, let alone this entire offseason, he could not provide a definitive answer when asked if another move was on the immediate horizon.
"I wish I could, but this free-agent process is a tricky thing," said Williams during a Monday afternoon conference call. "We have to continue down some in-roads we made, some very positive in-roads. All I can tell you is we will continue to be out there, pounding the pavement and make things happen.
"With regards to Torii or any other free agent, I've learned -- with all due respect -- that the things you talk about the most are the things that are less likely to happen," added Williams during a Monday evening phone interview with Comcast SportsNet. "I would ... not talk about free agents until it's time."
A meeting with Hunter and Texas general manager Jon Daniels took place at the home of Rangers owner Tom Hicks on Monday night. The Sun-Times article referred to a source stating the climate was right for Hunter to sign soon with the White Sox unless another team comes in and blows away Hunter with an offer.
And judging the tenor of Daniels' e-mail following Monday's meeting, he sounds as if there's hope that team could be Texas.
"It was a good night -- talked baseball and continued to get a feel for each other," wrote Daniels in the e-mail. "I expect both sides will take some time over the holiday, and revisit things afterward.
"In the meantime, [Hunter's agent] Larry [Reynolds] and Torii are going through their process and we're continuing to look at all ways to improve the organization," Daniels added.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.