Hunter, a non-roster invitee who's impressed manager Kevin Cash this spring, is expected to be a key part of the relief corps, Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times reports. "We expect him to be pitching in some meaningful situations for us,'' Cash said. The 30-year-old journeyman has allowed four runs over six spring appearances, but none have been earned. Hunter has also fanned eight over 6.2 innings and has apparently earned the trust of Cash, who alluded to the veteran making "a couple of adjustments" that have apparently helped him be more effective. Hunter was deployed in a variety of relief situations with the Orioles, Cubs and Indians over the last four seasons and amassed 16 saves and 41 holds in 219 appearances over that span.
Hunter has agreed to a minor league contract with the Rays with an invite to spring training, Steve Carney of 620 AM WDAE radio reports. The 30-year-old has 16 career saves but will face plenty of hurdles to earn such consideration in this bullpen. Still, he'll offer valuable depth in the middle innings for the reliever corps if he breaks camp. Despite modest career marks of a 4.26 ERA and 5.65 K/9, his 2.01 BB/9 reflects his excellent control.
Hunter (back) tossed a scoreless frame in Friday's victory over the Yankees. Hunter was slowed by a back injury for a couple days, but he returned to action Friday and pitched a scoreless ninth inning in an 8-0 Orioles victory. He figures to be available out of the bullpen moving forward.
Hunter (back) was released by the Indians on Thursday. Hunter had been rehabbing his way back from a back injury, but the club apparently decided he wouldn't be able to help them down the stretch run of the season and made the 30-year-old a free agent. It's unclear when Hunter will be able to return from his injury, but if healthy, he could find himself back in the majors wherever he lands when rosters expand in September.
Hunter (back) will begin his rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Columbus, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports. Hunter is still a couple weeks from returning as he will need multiple outings before returning to the team, but this is a positive sign for the 30-year-old. He has been out since before the All-Star break, but recently threw off a mound last week for the first time since going down.