Pence on playing in '20: 'I'm talking with teams'

January 24th, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Free-agent outfielder  said he is still hoping to play this season, though he has not spoken to the Rangers about his situation.

“I’m training and talking with a couple of teams, several teams,” Pence said.

Pence spoke at the end of last season about possibly retiring, but he now says he still wants to play.

“Yes, if possible,” Pence said.

Pence hasn’t been in communication with the Rangers about playing for them in 2020, but he is still in touch with manager Chris Woodward.

“Woody talks to me,” Pence said. “Regardless of the business side of baseball, we are extremely close.”

Pence spoke about his situation on Friday while visiting J.B. Little Elementary School in Arlington. Pence attended J.B. Little Elementary growing up and was there for Tree Planting Day, along with the Texas Tree Foundation.

“It was wonderful growing up here,” Pence said. “I have really fond memories of Little Elementary. I remember lots of science projects. I remember lots of soccer games in this field, lots of races. I’m just really happy to add some trees, because I remember playing here a lot as a kid.”

The chance to play in his hometown is why Pence was excited to sign with the Rangers last season. He went to camp on a Minor League contract and ended up making the American League All-Star team.

He played in 83 games for the Rangers and hit .297 with 18 home runs, 59 RBIs and a .552 slugging percentage. His .910 OPS over 316 plate appearances was the highest of his career.

“Honestly, last season was a dream come true,” Pence said. “That experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. Getting an opportunity to play in my hometown -- there’s a really great thing happening with the culture there. A lot of the people I met -- [Woodward], the hitting staff and the whole Rangers organization -- just absolutely phenomenal people.

“The young players are so talented, you can kind of see what’s developing, and it was really awesome to be part of that magic. I feel it for them. They’re incredible and I just had a blast playing.”

Injuries kept it from being a complete season. Pence wasn’t able to play in the All-Star Game because of a strained right groin muscle, and he was out from Aug. 27 through the end of the season with a strained lower back. That injury is no longer an issue for him.

“It’s good,” Pence said. “I’ve had a wonderful offseason of addressing it all. Sometimes injuries can be wonderful blessings, because getting to the root of it and being able to fix that helps prevent it in the future. That was one of the blessings of this injury. I was able to get to the root of it. Now, basically find the balance in my body and you don’t have to deal with that anymore.”

Planting trees for the Arlington school district isn’t going to bother his back.

“Trees are literally what we’re breathing,” Pence said. “They help cool the temperature. They also have all sorts of chemicals we’re passing back and forth. They make you happier. They also help reduce pollution. They heal the environment. Planting trees is one of the best ways I know to give back to generations behind us. We need to find ways to reduce the damages that have been done. This is just a step in that direction.”