Successful surgery has Torii optimistic
Angels' star outfielder expects to be pain-free next season
Angels center fielder Torii Hunter underwent surgery on Monday at Baylor University Hospital to repair a hernia on his right side."The surgery was a success," said Hunter, who was driven home after the procedure by his wife, Katrina. "I did my homework when I found out what needed to be done, and I'm really happy to get this taken care of, so I can move on and play without this pain next year." Dr. John Priskett, who performed the surgery, told Hunter it would give him more freedom of movement next season. "Whatever was wrong in there, it's fixed now," Hunter said. "It already feels great. I'll have six to eight weeks of rehab, starting with some light bike work, cardio and gradually picking up to where I'll be able to work out in mid-January. That will have me ready for Spring Training. "I'm really excited by what Dr. Priskett told me. It was a low-risk, high-reward surgery. The long-term gain is significant. He said, 'You're going to feel way better, and you'll play better.' That was music to my ears. "He said that once you have this surgery, it never bothers you anymore. No more hernias for me. The only way I'd hurt my other side is compensating for the right side -- and that won't happen, because the right side is strong again. So I'll be good to go." Hunter, 34, was limited to 119 games in 2009, but it didn't stop him from winning his ninth consecutive Rawlings Gold Glove and his first Silver Slugger Award. He batted .299, a career high, with 22 homers and 90 RBIs. His .366 on-base percentage was another career best. The surgery was Hunter's first since 1995, when his right knee was repaired. Hunter traced the injury on his right side that sent him to the disabled list on July 10 to several collisions with outfield walls -- notably on May 22 at Dodger Stadium and on June 15 in San Francisco's AT&T Park. "I think about it all the time," Hunter said. "I was on my way to my best season when I got hurt running into walls. The one at Dodger Stadium on May 22, when I caught Matt Kemp's drive against the wall, I was hurting after that. Then I did it again in San Francisco on June 15, and that messed me up some more. "If I had played the whole season, I could have had 120-plus ribbies, 30-plus homers, scored 100 runs. It was great winning the Silver Slugger Award, but I know I could have done much more. "I tried to play through it, but had to go on the disabled list. It cost me 32 games. When I came back, I still had some pain, but I had to be there for my team, so I played the best I could. We took it to Game 6 in the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium after sweeping Boston. That was an amazing experience." Hunter co-hosted a charity golf event in the Phoenix area with D-backs outfielder Justin Upton and accepted the Branch Rickey Award for humanitarian contributions on Nov. 14 in Denver before returning home to the Dallas area to prepare for the surgery. "I'm looking forward to taking it easy for a while, going on some dates with my wife and spending time with our sons," Hunter said. "I'll get after it when I'm ready, and next thing we know it will be February, and we'll be playing baseball again in the sun in Arizona. I can't wait to take another run at a championship."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.