Hunter levied with four-game suspension
Angels' outfielder begins serving punishment Saturday
DETROIT -- Handed a four-game suspension with an undisclosed fine by Major League Baseball for his outburst on Friday night at Comerica Park, Torii Hunter -- the Angels' leader and most productive player -- accepted the punishment and began the ban Saturday as his team faced the Tigers.
Hunter will be eligible to return to the lineup on Wednesday when the Halos wrap up a three-game series at Angel Stadium against the Royals.
His initial reaction was to appeal the suspension, which came after a verbal spat with home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa in the eighth inning of a 4-2 victory. But Hunter, after consulting with manager Mike Scioscia, general manager Tony Reagins and agent Larry Reynolds, decided to accept and serve out the suspension.
"I wasn't shocked," Hunter said. "I threw baseballs on the field and said some crazy things. Some things were said on both sides. My actions were pretty bad, and I've got to pay the consequences.
"There's no appeal because I was terrible. I know about David Ortiz's situation. He threw bats on the field and got five games. I threw balls on the field and got four games. I figured I better take this. That's justice in baseball. Mike Scioscia, Tony Reagins and my agent all got together and came up with this -- get it out of the way and get ready for the stretch."
Originally slated for his familiar cleanup spot and in right field Saturday, Hunter was spelled in the outfield by Juan Rivera.
"The more I think about it, the more I understand that's not me," Hunter said. "I really let that guy push my buttons. I shouldn't let it come to that.
"I apologize to the fans, to the kids out there and my kids. They've seen me get angry, but not in public."
Hunter was upset about several called strikes, and it boiled over in the eighth when he was called out looking.
Scioscia ran out of the dugout to restrain Hunter as the interaction with Kulpa grew increasingly heated, and the manager also was given the boot.
"Although he will have his side heard and talk to the league, there will be no appeal," Scioscia said. "I think he understands. The suspension is what it is, and Torii wants to move on.
"Obviously, it's tough for us as a team, tough for Torii. I think he understands he's an emotional guy and got a little emotional last night. It happens. Torii's a competitor. He reacted to the situation where he felt he was getting the short end of the stick, and it escalated to where this happened."
An All-Star for the fourth time this season, Hunter leads Angels regulars with a .294 batting average, .505 slugging percentage, .374 on-base percentage and 70 RBIs. He's tied with Mike Napoli for the club lead with 18 homers.
"Passion sometimes drives a player," Scioscia said. "Sometimes it comes back and gets you. It's unfortunate. There's obviously precedent. It's happened to some other guys."
Kulpa maintained that Hunter made contact with him after he'd been ejected. Hunter claimed that if it happened, it was unintentional -- and he was unaware of it.
"Obviously, Torii didn't like strike one, and we had a talk about strike one," Kulpa said. "And then he didn't like strike three, and we had a conversation about strike three, and he said some things that crossed the line and he got ejected. And then after that, he beaked me with the brim of his helmet. Right above my left eye. It wasn't a bump."
If that happened, Hunter said, it must have come when he was pointing down to the umpire, indicating that the pitch was low, and Kulpa was in the path of his helmet as he brought it back up.
Scioscia was ejected for persisting with the argument, the umpire added.
"Mike was warned a few times to quit following me," Kulpa said, "and he was just sticking up for his player."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.