Hunter Pence Arrives in Philly
He's starting in right field, batting fifth in the lineup. Here is his complete Q & A session with the media, what he called his first-ever press conference.
Q: What have the last 24 hours been like, and now joining the team with best record in baseball?
Pence: "It’s a pretty big swing. I think I am really happy to be a part of a team that is in a playoff race. A lot of people never get this opportunity and I have never been a part of it yet. I would sacrifice a lot for this. I am thrilled to be here and ready to go."
Q: What did you hear about Philly from other?
Pence: "Most everyone knows this is a baseball city, a very big sports city. Roy and Brad told me there is nothing like it: the crowd, the fans. It’s a packed house 150-something games in a row. That says something about the atmosphere every night. They said you’re in for a treat. Have fun and go place baseball."
Q: Did you follow the trade rumors?
Pence: "I was trying to block it out, but it became apparent that I was going somewhere. But no one told me where, but it’s one of those things that it’s a relief to finally know where I’m going to be playing baseball for a while. Just get it all over with. All the speculation and the rumors, there is no way to avoid it. every single day people are asking where are you going, where are you getting traded? I didn’t know until you guys knew. I am happy I landed in a good home where people want me, where we got an unbelievable baseball team around me."
Q: You had a conversation with Roy Halladay at All-Star Game?
Pence: "It’s kind of ironic. I think everyone knows in baseball there is a lot of respect for Roy Halladay. I went up to him, he’s kind of soft-spoken guy. I just went up to him and told him Roy, when we face you and compete at the highest level, we know we are competing against the best. I just wanted to tell him I respect what you do and it’s amazing to be in this league and to compete against someone of your caliber."
Q: What was it like being taken out of game last night, knowing you were no longer with the Astros?
Pence: "It was culmination of a long chapter in my life. Ii want to be good to everyone who gives me the opp. I think the Astros did a lot for me and I am grateful for that. all my teammates, we all been through a lot. I think that kind of adversity gives you a different type of asset that you can’t get unless you go through it. I know they are still vowing to turn that thing around and it’s emotional because I love those guys. I want the best for them. I think they are happy for me because I get this opportunity to play here. that’s just who I am. I am guy who cares about people and a guy who makes sure I can do right by who brought me. Now I am in a place they really want me with a chance to do something special. it’s an unbelievable opportunity and I couldn’t’ be more grateful."
Q: And when you saw Jason Michaels coming to take over for you...
Pence: "I was shocked. I knew it meant I was probably gone. That chapter was over. Looking back on it, I can still help the Astros in a way because I think they got some good prospects out of the deal. I guess the initial reaction was ok, get ready to move forward. There is a new path for you."
Q: You know you're picking up quite a few games in the standings...
Pence: "I was already talking about it. I was telling everyone I jumped 62 games in one day. I think that might be epic proportions. I don’t think anyone has beat that. it’s pretty cool."
Q: You've spent so much time in Texas, from growing up to college to Astros. What about playing in a new place like Philly?
Pence: "I think the longer you’re in major league baseball, you get to see different areas. You kind of just learn people are people. Everyone is the same. A lot of times coming up, you only know one place. You travel so much. You come to Philadelphia and play a ball game at this stadium as an opposing team, you see the passion. You come here and you want to play in those intense environments. Now those guys have my back and they are going to be on my throat if I am not playing the right way, which is how it should be. You want to be in town that exciting."
Q: How about playing in All-Star Game, not knowing you might be impacting World Series you could play in?
Pence: "I didn’t think there was going to be a trade. One thing I did think I did make a difference in the world series. You want to win. That’s the neat thing about the world series, teams that aren’t in contention still get to have an effect on what really happens. It’s unique twist. I like that baseball has it that way."
Q: How has it been moving your stuff, equipment and what not?
Pence: "Equipment, I am not really in all of my stuff. So I am a little uncomfortable. I am not going to have my spikes. In the end, the game is the game. That’s the only thing … we are used to flying. Not so used to flying and playing the same day, but it wasn’t too bad. I had a connector flight. Got in, came straight to the ballpark. Took care of me, had a driver come over here. just get some equipment and go play some baseball."
Q: So you don't have cleats?
Pence: "I am still looking. I have like 30 assortments of different sizes and colors, none of which are Reebok that I am supposed to be wearing. I get paid to wear their spikes. I am hoping there is not some big picture that shows up everywhere. I know that is going to be the case."