When he arrived from Houston, the swing was goofy, but the work ethic was solid. No one ever accused Hunter Pence of not trying. Turns out, he was trying too hard, which is what we all saw with our own two eyes anyway.
Last season, while Pence was still with the Phillies, he admitted to doing too much in the absence of the meat of the order, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. When he arrived in the summer of 2011, Pence excelled behind the 3-4 hitters, exploding in Philly as a beloved athlete. That relationship turned sour when in 2012, it turned ugly.
“That’s 100 percent what I did,” Pence told the Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday afternoon. “And in this game, I say it a lot: you can’t try; you’ve got to trust. And I was trying to make it happen. But there was a great lesson for me in that experience, there was a letting go. there was a lot I had to learn.”
“To be honest with you, I felt really guilty,” Pence said. “I felt like I did something wrong. Obviously I shouldn’t have looked at it that way, it was the wrong way to look at it. But I was, there was a lot of excitement to be put into this race. But I was heavily invested in bringing the Phillies back, and it felt like… I felt guilty. I felt like it was my fault that it fell apart.”
It wasn’t really Pence’s fault, although his penchant for swinging at everything hurt his numbers, and the team’s. So often, we saw Pence flailing at pitches early in the count, reluctant to take walks (hey, look, we’re talking about walks again). With Utley and Howard ahead of him, that sort of approach was fine; he could get away with it. But as the focal point and cleanup hitter, Pence needed to be more selective. He couldn’t bring his jittery self to do it and found himself in San Francisco at the trade deadline.