DETROIT -- Just 29 of Torii Hunter's 167 hits last year went to right field, according to baseball-reference.com. A week into the 2013 season, he's already better than 20 percent toward that opposite-field hit total.
Thanks in part to that opposite-field hitting, he reached the career 2,000-hit mark earlier in the season than many might have imagined.
Hunter's three hits Tuesday were all centered up the middle, not to the right side. The third of them, a sixth-inning line drive off Esmil Rogers, drew a standing ovation from a crowd of Tigers and Jays fans alike as the scoreboard mentioned the feat.
"It's awesome, man," Hunter said. "I'd been playing for the Twins for all those years, and when I'd come here, I still felt a little love. And now that I'm here, they've seen me play, they've seen me grow as a player. They saw a young 22-year-old Torii Hunter. They saw the 25-year-old, the 27-year-old, the 30-year-old.
"They saw me grow and play this game. To get 2,000 hits, I'm thankful that they showed the support."
Hunter already had a milestone in Detroit, even if it didn't occur as a Tiger. He hit his first Major League home run at Tiger Stadium on April 15, 1999, off Brian Moehler.
Hunter is showing an opposite-field ability batting second that he didn't have earlier in his career. He has had two hits to right field with Austin Jackson taking off from first, but neither of them have been hit-and-run plays, according to Tigers manager Jim Leyland. Instead, they've been reactions when Jackson has taken off.
"I think he's pretty professional at shooting the ball through the hole there when Jackson's on," Leyland said. "He's a smart player. He does a lot of things pretty smart, and he sees what's there. He tries to take what's there. I think that's how I'd put it."