Hunter Pence has been roaming the outfield for the Giants for just a season and a half, but already the 30-year-old veteran has made his mark on the team.
His spirited speeches during the 2012 postseason have already become the thing of legends, a key factor in spurring the team on to its second World Series title in three years. He followed that up in 2013 by leading the Giants in home runs (26), RBIs (99), runs scored (91) and stolen bases (22), though it was not enough to lift the team back to the playoffs.
It was enough, however, to earn Pence a five-year, $90 million contract from the Giants.
The big payday, though, doesn’t mean the slugger is resting on his laurels.
“I don’t think you ever figure out this game,” he said. “I don’t think you ever figure out life. You constantly go out there learning. That’s one reason I think why we love sports, because you can’t define it and the moments, you’re going to see who steps up to the moment.”
Pence went on to say that the big contract has served as a motivator for him, as he feels grateful for the confidence the Giants have shown in him and he has a desire to prove them right.
In a lineup packed with hitters who are respected, but not necessarily feared across the league, proving them right will require Pence to provide the power bat San Francisco has struggled to find consistently over the past several seasons.
The addition of left fielder Michael Morse has given Pence something of a kindred spirit — in personality as much as style of play — though Morse’s recent history of injuries have prevented him from repeating the 31-homer season he had for the Washington Nationals in 2011.
That additional power in the lineup means manager Bruce Bochy has a tough decision regarding who among the Giants will bat seventh, though when asked about it, Pence showed the same team spirit he displayed during the 2012 postseason.
“I’ll hit wherever he puts me,” Pence said. “The goal is to win the World Series. How we get to that result is by everyone being on board as a unit, as a team, not an individual. I’ll hit seventh, ninth, bench, whatever in the rules that he can put me in to hit, I’ll go hit, and whatever is needed to make that happen, that’s my goal.”
At least one thing seems certain: the Giants’ new $90 million man won’t be riding the bench.