SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Pence is ready for his next challenge.Intent on extending his Major League career to a 13th season, Pence revamped his swing and is poised to try his new style as he begins playing this week for La Romana in the Dominican Winter League.Pence became a free
SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Pence is ready for his next challenge.
Intent on extending his Major League career to a 13th season, Pence revamped his swing and is poised to try his new style as he begins playing this week for La Romana in the Dominican Winter League.
Pence became a free agent when his five-year, $90 million contract with the Giants expired after this past season. Limited by various injuries through most of the last four years, the outfielder believes that the adjustments he's learning from hitting guru Doug Latta will make him formidable at the plate once again.
"I'm really excited to implement the changes," said Pence, who recorded career lows in batting average (.226) and OPS (.590) while appearing in 97 games with the Giants in 2018.
Pence, 35, hasn't had much of an offseason. Two days after the regular season ended, he began working in Southern California with Latta, who's assisted by former big leaguer Marlon Byrd. Latta is credited with prompting the rapid turnaround of Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, who became an MVP-level performer after enduring years of utility-man status.
Pence described Latta's hitting principles as "not as punishing to the body. You're leveraging your body more efficiently, so you're using your more powerful muscles."
Ideally, Pence explained, a hitter's swing will remain in the hitting zone longer, thus encouraging contact that's consistent and solid.
Scheduled to leave on a 4 a.m. PT flight the next day, Pence spoke Tuesday night at AT&T Park, where he and his wife, Alexis, were honored for their philanthropy at the annual "Holiday Heroes" party held by the Wender Weis Foundation for Children. The Pences have been heavily involved in the No Kid Hungry Foundation.
"Obviously we love kids and we care about the community," Pence said. "Hearing that one in six kids goes to school hungry every day, that's all we needed to know to understand that this is a very important thing to get behind and support. We're very lucky, and we're thankful to all the fans who have helped us."
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.