The bonding between Hunter Pence and his new teammates has begun.
“You want to try this,” Ryan Howard said as he passed Pence his batting practice bat.
Pence, 28, grinned as Howard donated his big piece, a 40-ounce hunk of maple that would have made Dick Allen proud, to the Phillies’ new right fielder.
Pence had no problem giving Howard’s big wand a lift as he took some cuts by his locker. But will he be able to give the Phillies’ offense a lift?
“I hope to be able to do it,” Pence said. “I’m here to give it all that I’ve got. I think this is a wonderful opportunity. I’m happy they wanted me over here.”
The former Astro is more than happy to go from worst to first.
“I’m on cloud nine,” Pence said. “I must have jumped into a dream. It’s surreal. I’m playing for the team with the best record in baseball in a great city with incredible fans.”
That team hopes that Pence’s right-handed bat is the missing piece as it attempts to get back to its third World Series in the last four seasons.
“I know they have a lot of left-handed bats here and they can use a right-handed bat and I’m here to be that bat,” Pence said. “I’m willing to do whatever they ask in order to win a championship. It’s going to be fun playing in a great hitter’s park on a team in which every year you’re expected to win the World Series. This is the situation that I always wanted to be in and now I’m here.”