SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants’ 2018 season is over. With that conclusion comes the expiration of Hunter Pence’s five-year, $90-million deal that he signed in 2013. Pence gave a speech after today’s game with an atmosphere that suggested it could be his last. But he is far from ready to accept the end of his career.
After the buzz died down and Pence headed back into the locker room, he was asked about his impending free agency and whether he thinks he can revive his career after his worst-ever season in which he batted .226 (worst of career) with 24 RBIs (worst of career) and four home runs (worst of career). Pence, with his typical confidence and well-renowned work ethic, said his offseason has already started.
“I definitely think I need to make some swing adjustments and I have a plan to do that,” Pence said. “Because I feel strong, I feel healthy, I feel fast. I’m going to work on flexibility and changing my swing completely. Having a whole offseason to prepare for that and then using winter ball to leverage my way in, I want to still play. It’s uncertain. Hopefully I can find an opportunity. I’m going to look for it, I’m going to do everything I can to be the best I can to come back because I want to come back and contribute to another playoff run.”
Pence’s plan involves heading to Los Angeles this Thursday to immediately start working with private hitting coach Doug Latta, who also worked with Mac Williamson and Justin Turner. Pence said he spent four days with Latta earlier in the year in sort of a “crash course,” but it was not long enough of an experience to hold through the season.
“I’m going to go work with Doug Latta in LA and just try to master that move because it’s a completely different move,” Pence said. “When I first came back from the four days, it was incredible what the ball was doing, but I kind of lost a little bit of the rhythm and it has to all be in-sync. So I’m excited to do that and hopefully I can reinvent myself and come back and produce on the field because I definitely feel I have the strength. My body’s healthy. I absolutely have the love and the joy for the game, so I’m going to try and do that.”
Time with Latta over a full offseason is what Pence feels he needs to change his swing and reinvent his career. Regardless of what other people may think of Pence’s chances to accomplish that, he said he’s never lost his desire to keep playing.
“Never a point where I didn’t want to play,” Pence said. “There was an uncertainty because I wasn’t really doing well. But I think when I knew I was healthy and I was strong and I was fast, I was like, ‘You know what? If I can master that swing and I can come back and be productive.’ Because I want to carry my weight and I want to be productive and I want to help a team win. It’s not good if you actually can’t perform. But I truly believe in my heart that I can. I can make this adjustment, I can reinvent myself and I still love it and I’m still healthy.”
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