Saturday, August 24, 2002

Hunter finds home with Astros

The Associated Press

        HOUSTON — Brian Hunter believes he made the right decision in the off-season and the Houston Astros agree more every day. Hunter went 2-for-4, including a two-run double, and again made a dazzling catch playing center field to help the Astros defeat the Reds 6-4 Friday night.

        Hunter was a free agent last winter. He had several offers from which to choose.

        “When I was looking at the teams I wanted to go to, there were a couple of things I looked for,” he said. “I wanted to go somewhere I could win. The next thing was I wanted to go somewhere I thought I would have an opportunity to play a lot.

        “The Astros have some big fellows in the outfield, so I thought my speed would fit in well here. And I saw (manager) Jimy (Williams) when he was in Boston and he had guys playing in the outfield I didn't even know were in the major leagues. So I knew he'd give me a chance.”

        Hunter has gotten plenty of chances, except during a 35-game stretch he spent on the disabled list after having an appendectomy. He has started only 15 games, but he has played in a total of 66, mostly as a late-inning defensive replacement.

        He has started two of the three games since returning from the DL, making spectacular running catch to help beat the Cubs on Wednesday night. His big night Friday improved his average to .298 and Williams likes what he sees.

        “He certainly had a big double with the bases loaded tonight,” Williams said. “We really like the way he has played. He had that appendectomy and had to wait a while. But he has come back and played very well.”

        Hunter has even surprised himself with his hitting.

        “It's always a plus any time I do anything offensively,” he said. “I have spent a lot of time concentrating on improving my swing and it has paid off.”


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