Tommy Hunter enjoying every aspect of Mets return
Tommy Hunter’s smile illuminates the clubhouse as his pingpong shot darts past the paddle of an outstretched Pete Alonso. It’s times like these the reliever feared he’d never get back after sustaining a career-threatening injury last year.
“This is the part that I think everybody misses when you’re done, just having fun,” Hunter told The Post. “I think I took a lot of it for granted mistakenly, unknowingly.”
Hunter first impressed the Mets with several shutout innings in relief during his 2021 tenure with the club. The righty later captured the hearts of their fans by notching his first career hit after 14 seasons in the majors. However, severe back discomfort — later diagnosed as six disk herniations — derailed Hunter’s strong campaign, ultimately requiring multiple surgeries.
For Hunter, the injury was almost too much to overcome.
“Anytime you have stuff like that going on, there’s gonna be some low moments, some optimistic times and times where you just want to do other things,” Hunter said. “But now it’s good to be back.”
Hunter re-signed with the Amazins’ on a minor league deal in late April and was called up to the majors two months later. Before surrendering a run on July 2 in the Mets’ 7-3 loss to the Rangers, the 36-year-old hadn’t allowed an earned run in his first seven appearances (12 innings pitched) with the team.
Baseball is not the only sport that Hunter excels in — he is a two-time Junior Olympics gold medalist in judo, first winning the accolade at age 11 and again when he was 12. Now, the veteran says he’s recently been working on improving his pingpong game.
Despite beating Alonso, his good friend, Hunter humbly claims to only be a mid-tier pingpong player in the clubhouse.
“I think I bring a lot of shock and awe because my physical stature is very different from these professional athletes in this room, and I try to not get too high, get too low.” Hunter said. “Dad bods work too sometimes, and that’s what I’m bringing.”