Hunter Pence’s Giants career was supposed to be over. The two-time World Series champ had his farewell game with the club at the end of 2018, a game that many, including Pence, thought might be his last in Major League Baseball.
Pence made a stop in the Dominican Winter League while attempting to retool his swing, and signed with the Texas Rangers on a minor-league deal. Then, improbably, the old Hunter Pence re-emerged, earning his first trip to the All-Star Game since 2014, and posted the best OPS (.910) of his career. The only thing that could stop Pence was a back injury in the second half that cut his season short.
Now Pence is back in the orange and black in Scottsdale once again. So are Murph & Mac, and Pence hopped on with his old friends to explain how he ended up back with the Giants this offseason. It all started at Pablo Sandoval’s wedding and a conversation with Bruce Bochy.
“Boch was there, it was good talking to him,” Pence said. “At the time at Pablo’s wedding I was still trying to get healthy. Boch was like ‘You’ve got to play one more year, you’ve just got to.’ I was like ‘Alright Boch, I’m working on it.’ I got a phone call kind of late in the offseason from the Giants and I was like ‘Woah!’ Because I didn’t get that call the year before and I understand why, and it was just really cool to hear their view on it, and their thoughts and what they expected and what they wanted from me.
“(Gabe) Kapler was amazing to talk to and just texted me the whole offseason. It was kind of a slam dunk. It just feels right, and I’m super pumped to be here.”
So what role does Pence, now 36, see himself playing for the “retooling” 2020 Giants?
“My goal is to bring as many intangibles, and be as prepared on the field as possible. Feeling way better than I ever expected at this point in spring training and I’m learning a whole lot from this new hitting staff. They are cutting edge and they’ve got some amazing, amazing people in the batting cage right now. Even our outfield drills and our outfield information is off the charts.
“I’m really excited to get back on the field. I don’t know what the exact expectation is, but it’s going to be to get out there and win ballgames and be myself.”