ARLINGTON -- The Rangers signed three-time All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The Rangers also officially announced the signing of infielder Matt Davidson to a Minor League contract and have confirmed that he will be given a chance to pitch.Pence, 35,
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers signed three-time All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The Rangers also officially announced the signing of infielder Matt Davidson to a Minor League contract and have confirmed that he will be given a chance to pitch.
Pence, 35, is a 12-year Major League veteran who struggled last season with the Giants after being sidelined from April 19 to June 1 with a sprained right thumb. But if Pence is healthy, he has a chance to give the Rangers some right-handed balance to a pre-dominantly left-handed-hitting lineup. The Rangers are especially left-handed in the middle of their order with Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor and Ronald Guzmán.
"He has a long track record of being one of the elite teammates in the game," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He is a decorated player, winning player who has been productive on the field. I think from a standpoint of pedigree, makeup, the way he goes about the game, his style of play is consistent with what [manager Chris Woodward] and the staff want our message to be and want all our players to be about."
Pence played in 97 games in 2018 and hit .226 with four home runs, 24 RBIs and a .332 slugging percentage. For his career, he is batting .280 with a .334 on-base percentage and a .458 slugging percentage. But he was willing to play in the Dominican Republic this winter and make some adjustments to get back to being productive again.
"It says a lot," Daniels said. "There are not a lot of guys in the game who are decorated who are willing to do that and step out of their comfort zone. In talking to him, he loved it. It re-energized him, just the style of the game down there. If he is physically recovered from all the things that bothered him last year and some of the adjustments he's made, we are intrigued to see how it plays out on the field."
Pence, who has spent his entire career in the National League, is getting a chance to play at home. He was born in Fort Worth, Texas, went to school at Arlington High and college at UT-Arlington. Pence was originally a second-round pick by the Astros in 2004 and was an All-Star for them in 2009 and 2011. He also played for the Phillies and the Giants, helping San Francisco win the World Series in 2012 and '14.
Davidson played in 123 games for the White Sox last season and hit .228 with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs. He also made three appearances as a pitcher and did not allow a run over three innings.
Davidson was originally a pitcher growing up before switching to hitting. He was drafted as an infielder, but Daniels said his pitching background makes him more than just a novice with a strong arm on the mound.
"He has a good curveball," Daniels said. "A lot of [position players] who pitch are more about arm strength. He has a good arm but what stands out is he has unique traits to his curveball. He wants to do it.
"We are going to take it slow with him. You've got to be responsible. He is not going to be on a traditional pitcher's program and a heavy workload. He'll focus primarily on being a position player and as we get comfortable that we have conservatively built him up, you could see him get some innings off the mound."
Davidson is one of three players in Major League history, along with Babe Ruth (1919) and Shohei Ohtani (2018), to hit at least 20 home runs and also make three pitching appearances in the same season.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.