Reliever Jon Hunton, 29, first came to the Ducks late last season via trade and paid instant dividends. The nine-year veteran immediately was installed as the closer and helped the team win the Liberty Division championship. But in Game 4 of the Atlantic League Championship Series against York, he was tagged for four runs in the eighth inning as the Ducks lost the game and the series. Reacquired in a June 4 trade with the Laredo Lemurs of the American Association, he is 1-0 with a 3.68 ERA and two saves.
You have played with 14 teams in nine seasons, not including your various winter ball stints. What has been the most interesting experience of your pro career?
"I was in Venezuela this past offseason for four months straight. I didn't come home at all. I was there all winter, through the Caribbean World Series, and I played for three teams over there."
The feeling after walking off the mound in Game 4 of the Atlantic League Championship Series?
"The feeling I had was that I let the team down. I'm not a conceited person or cocky at all, but when I got to Long Island last year, up until that Game 4, I was lights out. It just so happened that the worst game of my year was Game 4 of the Atlantic League Championship. I was really disappointed.
"I was really down, but it kind of drove me to go to winter ball and prove to myself and other people that I could turn it around after a bad game. I went down, converted 14 straight saves and ended up leading the league in saves."
What would it mean to win a championship here after coming so close last season?
"I really think that if I had a big hand in helping this team win a championship this year, it would mean a lot. I want to be in the game when it means something . . . Whether it's closing, setting up or pitching in the sixth and seventh innings, I want to do whatever I can to help this team win."
Did you think you were close to a big-league call-up during your time with Triple-A Sacramento (Oakland Athletics) in 2010?
"Honestly, I try not to think about it. I didn't really think I was. Maybe I had good enough numbers where it was a possibility, but I knew my situation as far as being an independent-league guy. What I mean is, the Athletics didn't really have much invested in me. I know how the baseball business works, and even though I might have had the numbers or the stuff to be called up, I just didn't think I would hop over some of the other guys to make the 40-man roster."