Weird is how Hunter Pence described it when asked about how it would be to play against the Phillies.
“It’s weird,” Pence said. “It has to do with how much I loved playing there. It was just a year playing there but it had such an impact on me.”
It wasn’t weird for the Phillies’ former right fielder when he faced Cliff Lee this past Monday night. He was a triple short of the cycle and the only San Francisco Giant to generate any offense against a dominant Lee in a 6-2 Phillies victory.
Pence has considerable respect for his former squad.
“They’re a tough team,” Pence said. “You can’t discount what those veterans on the Phillies can do. I know it from being in that clubhouse. Look what they did last year after they traded me. They were all but left for dead and they almost made the playoffs with a late charge that most didn’t see coming, but I know what guys like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley can do. Those guys are special players.”
Pence is happy out West, but he still misses Phillies fans.
“They’re unlike any other [fan base] in baseball,” Pence said. “It was so much fun to come to the park every day.”
Pence admits he loves coming out to AT&T Park, arguably the finest new yard in the majors, due to location, amenities and design.
Pence doesn’t navigate through the streets of San Francisco to the ballpark via car.
“I take a scooter,” Pence said. “It’s hard to drive in San Francisco but there are bike lanes, so I take advantage of it.”
Pence hasn’t been mobbed outside the ballpark by the Giants’ faithful yet.
“By the time most fans figure out it’s me, I’m gone,” Pence said. “I wear a cap and a hoodie and I’m not so easy to recognize. But when fans, especially kids recognize me, I’m more than happy to sign for them or take a quick picture.”
One of the last things Pence did with the Phillies was take pictures with fans to help with the organization’s ALS benefit.
“I loved doing that,” Pence said. “It was so much fun doing anything with Phillies fans. They’re so passionate.”
Pence makes his return to Philly as a World Series champion in orange and black in late July.
“The dates are circled on my calendar,” Pence said.