PiPress reporter defends questioning Torii Hunter

Pioneer Press reporter Mike Berardino felt compelled today to explain why he didn’t serve up the usual softballs to Minnesota Twins outfielder Torii Hunter at Hunter’s news conference earlier this week.

In a statement posted to the Pioneer Press website, Berardino said his questions about Hunter’s public statements on same-sex marriage weren’t intended to make the outfielder feel uncomfortable.

Rather, having read the strong criticism directed toward him on social media and via Deadspin.com in light of his recent endorsement of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, which included a comment related to gay marriage, I wanted to give Mr. Hunter an opportunity to respond to his critics.

I also asked him if he thought the political backlash might have impacted his recent job search as he eventually settled for a one-year contract at a 19-percent decrease in his average annual salary. Finally, I asked Mr. Hunter if he intended to be as open with his political and religious views moving forward after having gone through this recent experience.

Berardino says he considers the matter “closed” but the fact there’s nothing shocking — or really, new — in his statement suggests he’s gotten plenty of blowback for asking questions that other sports reporters said were inappropriate for the setting. He hasn’t responded yet to an email I sent seeking more information about the reaction. (Update: He notes it’s the same statement he gave to KARE on Wednesday night)

What kind of reaction?

Steve Neuman, who writes as “Stu” at the Infinite Guest blog documents some of it, including the gay slur, of course.

(h/t: Nancy Yang)