It will be difficult not to think so on July 13, when the All-Stars are introduced at Angel Stadium and he's the only player on the foul line wearing a halo on his uniform.
Hunter celebrated his fourth career All-Star selection with two homers and tied a career high with seven RBI Sunday to lead the two-time defending AL West champions to an 11-0 rout of the Kansas City Royals. He did not play in last year's game because of a strained right groin.
"I don't even think about that -- being the face of the franchise. I'm a company man," Hunter said. "Something's wrong with you if you think: 'I am the face of the franchise.' You can't think that -- never. You let people say that for you."
Manager Mike Scioscia was more than willing to oblige.
"I don't think there's much arguing what Torii means to our organization, in so many ways," Scioscia said. "He's having an MVP-type season. And in the clubhouse, with the mentoring he does, the leadership he brings and how hard he plays every day -- and the way the fans gravitate to him because of the way he plays the game -- it makes him a guy you're very proud to have as part of your organization."
Joel Pineiro won his sixth straight start with seven solid innings, and Paul McAnulty added a two-run homer in his Angels debut to help Los Angeles avoid a sweep. This series marks the 78th in a row at home in which the Angels have not been swept, the longest stretch by any team since the Atlanta Braves' streak of 84 ended with a four-game sweep by Arizona June 1-4, 2006.
Pineiro (9-6) scattered six hits and four walks, struck out three and stranded eight baserunners -- five in scoring position. The right-hander has a 2.08 ERA over his last six outings. The only other time he won six consecutive starts was in 2003, when he had a career-high 16 victories for Seattle.
"He pitched out of some tough situations and got the groundball when he needed it," Hunter said. "A lot of stuff can get lost in the shuffle in a game like this, but that guy gave us a good opportunity to win."
Anthony Lerew (1-2) was charged with six runs and six hits over six-plus innings in his fourth start this season and ninth in the big leagues. The 27-year-old right-hander, who is still classified as a rookie, was promoted from Triple-A Omaha on June 16 when righty Luke Hochevar went on the disabled list with a sprained elbow.
Erick Aybar, who broke up Bruce Chen's bid for a perfect game with a leadoff single in the seventh inning of Saturday night's 4-2 loss to the Royals, singled in the third against Lerew after a single by Jeff Mathis. A walk to Howie Kendrick loaded the bases for Bobby Abreu, who hit a sacrifice fly that. Hunter followed with a drive over the fence in left-center for a 4-0 lead.
"He got the ball up to some pretty darn good hitters," catcher Jason Kendall said of Lerew. "One thing about Torii, he doesn't miss those mistakes. And when you make one, he makes you pay. He's an All-Star, and that's why he is who he is."
Hunter went deep again in the seventh against Victor Marte for his 14th homer after a walk to Abreu. It was his 13th multihomer game and first since June 13, 2009, when he hit three against San Diego in a 9-1 win at Anaheim.
"It was just a coincidence that it happened the day I made the All-Star team," Hunter said. "I wasn't even thinking about that. When you're out there, you just try to win and compete, like I do every day. You have these days sometimes when you feel this good, you feel like nobody can get you out. And I guess today was my day."
Hunter came up with the bases loaded in the eighth and stroked a two-run single to right against Dusty Hughes, matching the seven RBI he had May 13, 2007, for Minnesota against Detroit.
"That's why he's an All-Star," Pineiro said. "He goes out there and plays hard every game. It doesn't matter if we're down by 10 or up by 10. He keeps everybody loose in the dugout and in the clubhouse. That's why he's a team leader."
McAnulty, who had his contract purchased Sunday from Triple-A Salt Lake, hit a two-run shot off reliever Kaneoka Texeira in the sixth after striking out his first two times up. He became the 26th player in Angels history to homer in his first game with the club, and was making his first start in the majors June 22, 2008, with San Diego. The Halos signed him in February.Notes
- When the Halos hosted the All-Star game in 1967, they were represented by RHP Jim McGlothin, 1B-OF Don Mincher and SS Jim Fregosi. When they hosted it in 1989, LHP Chuck Finley and CF Devon White made the squad.
- Only two players have been named All-Star MVP when their team has hosted the event -- Cleveland's Sandy Alomar Jr. (1997) and Boston's Pedro Martinez (1999). Three Angels players have been named MVP of an All-Star game -- Leon Wagner (1962), Fred Lynn (1983) and Garret Anderson (2003).