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'Perfect fit': Pence stars at Giants' FanFest

@mi_guardado
February 8, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO -- One day after finalizing a one-year, $3 million deal to return to the Giants, Hunter Pence emerged as the star attraction at FanFest, taking the stage to a standing ovation from fans at Oracle Park on Saturday. While the ink is dry on Pence’s contract, he still

SAN FRANCISCO -- One day after finalizing a one-year, $3 million deal to return to the Giants, Hunter Pence emerged as the star attraction at FanFest, taking the stage to a standing ovation from fans at Oracle Park on Saturday.

While the ink is dry on Pence’s contract, he still seems to have another pact to sort out with fellow outfielder Alex Dickerson, who was forced to don a blank jersey at the event after ceding his No. 8 back to Pence.

“We’re ironing those details out right now,” Dickerson joked during a Q&A session with fans.

Pence said he’s thrilled to be back in San Francisco, a city that fell hard for the 36-year-old veteran during his initial seven-season run with the Giants, which included World Series titles in 2012 and ‘14. He spent last season with the Rangers, where he enjoyed a career renaissance after overhauling his swing last offseason.

Pence batted .297 with a .910 OPS over 83 games for Texas last year, earning his first All-Star selection since 2014 and winning Sporting News’ American League Comeback Player of the Year Award. He said he’s looking forward to sharing what he’s learned and will be more than willing to serve as another hitting resource for his teammates.

“I’m very excited,” Pence said. “I learned a lot about hitting, about the body, about the biomechanics of the swing. A lot about information. I’m really excited to bring a lot of that back. I’m excited about this new [coaching] staff. I got to talk to them, and it’s next-level information that’s really going to help us and give us an edge on the field.”

Pence said he expects to primarily play left field and could form a platoon with the left-handed-hitting Dickerson, who has plenty of offensive upside but has struggled to stay healthy over his career.

Pence, who swings right-handed, crushed left-handed pitching in 2019, batting .327 with a 1.015 OPS over 119 plate appearances against southpaws. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said those numbers helped put Pence back on the Giants’ radar this offseason, as the new 26-man roster will give teams more flexibility to create favorable matchups during games.

“We were in the office one day looking at the league leaders against left-handed pitching last year, and Hunter was at the top of the list,” Zaidi said. “It was just the perfect fit.”

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.