The afternoon he was told that the Astros were close to closing a deal which would ship him out of Houston, Hunter Pence made it very clear he wanted to go to Philadelphia. He had to wait two days for the deal to go through, but once it did, the outfielder could finally breathe a sigh of relief and do his first interview as a Phillie.
He had the media eating out of his hands as soon as the slugger’s scratchy voice could be hard by Phillies fans. With the entire city of Philadelphia listening, the new star smirked and said, “It’s the city of brotherly love, I can’t wait to get there, man.” The newly-acquired bat has by no means had a “normal” journey to Citizens Bank Park. From Yahoo! Sports to “Jim Rome is Burning”, Pence’s antics have been at the center of conversation.
The rifle-armed outfielder hustled to Philadelphia but began his career wearing red in an unusual way. When he took the plate for the first time, he did so while wearing his black Astros’ cleats, which had been changed to read with spray paint. Despite being the least fashionable one on the field, the Texan doubled in a run for his first hit and RBI in Philly red. Little did we know that his make-shift cleats were just the beginning of a media frenzy that would go on because of the right fielder’s tomfoolery.
Just days after landing in Philly, the jet-lagged star changed his Twitter picture to the Daily News’ front page, titled “Pencey Driver.” The clip-out showed the outspoken star scoring the game winning run on a Raul Ibanez double. The internet so was abuzz with the picture that it drew some media attention.
Pence gave reporters another reason to talk about something other than his “Praying Mantis” swing. On Monday night, the twenty-eight-year-old had a miscue at the dish. He walked into the batter’s box with a donut on his bat and was oblivious to the situation until teammates yelled from the dugout. After smirking at Charlie Manuel, Pence took off the 12 ounce donut and stepped into face a 97-mile-per hour fastball without the extra weight.
Not only does the All-Star outfielder provide character that appeals to the media, he is also the type of player that manager’s dream of having. Although looking about as out-there as his personality, the slugger’s unique swing works. The last reason the media loves this guy is the same reason Charlie Manuel does, he helps the team win.
Pence has quickly brought production to Manuel’s lineup with three doubles and as many RBIs since putting on red stripes. The real effect of the former ‘Stro is shown by the significant increase in Ryan Howard’s stats, the results were immediate. During the five-tool player’s debut, the first baseman went four-for-four with nine RBIs. In the past five games, the Phil’s cleanup hitter has been seeing more fastball than when Ibanez batted behind him and has been on a tear with twenty-five RBIs and four long balls.
Pence was the biggest move of the deadline, and rightfully so. The star brings stability and power to an already dangerous Phillies’ lineup, while keeping the media entertained. Manuel can put the Phils in cruise control because with the chemistry this team is already developing, the next stop is the post-season.