Detroit — In January 2013, Torii Hunter told me, emphatically, he would never again talk politics in public.
His pledge, apparently, had a shelf life.
Hunter, a free-agent outfielder who spent the last two seasons with the Tigers, has endorsed Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson, specifically citing Hutchinson's belief of "keeping marriage between one man and one woman."
This is the second time Hunter's thoughts on gays have made national headlines.
Two offseasons ago, he told a Los Angeles Times reporter he would be "uncomfortable" with the idea of having a gay teammate. He later apologized, then when asked by The News to clarify his comments weeks later, that's went Hunter promised never to go public with such feelings again.
"I will never talk about politics, race or anything like that ever again with nobody," Hunter told The News in January 2012. "That's not part of baseball, so I'm not gonna talk about it. That's crazy."
Hunter, it would seem, has had a change of heart.
As part of the ad for Hutchinson, Hunter said, "Asa is committed to the principles we hold dear, like a strong faith in God, equal justice for all and keeping marriage between one man and one woman." Here's the complete spot:
Hutchinson is leading, slightly, in the polls to be governor of Arkansas, where Hunter grew up. He is opposing Democrat Mike Ross.
Gay marriage now is legal in 32 states, and currently is under review in Arkansas.
Hunter, 39, is contemplating retirement, but likely will continue to play next year. It probably won't be in Detroit, however. The Tigers have more pressing needs than bringing back an aging outfielder who's lost a step, or 12, on defense.
In two years with the Tigers, Hunter hit .295 with 34 home runs and 167 RBIs in 286 games.
He signed in Detroit for a two-year, $26 million contract.