Hunter Pence On Being Traded To Phillies: “To be a part of this team is the ultimate opportunity as a baseball player.”
Hunter Pence may just feel like the luckiest major league baseball player on the face of the earth. Last week Pence was informed that he was being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for four prospects, including first baseman Jonathan Singleton and pitcher Jarred Cosart. Pence was pulled from the Astros’ game against the Brewers on July 29thand was seen exchanging going-away hugs with teammates although I can’t envision the All-Star right-fielder being all that upset. The man made up 62 games in the standings according to WIP in Philadelphia in the following interview.
Pence went from the worst team in all of baseball to the the best team in terms of overall record. He couldn’t be a better match for Philadelphia according to his own words. Philly fans love Pence’s “lunch box mentality,” and he couldn’t feel more fortunate to be playing for this ball club. The Philliesare 6-0 with Pence (he hit his first home run last night against the Giants) in the lineup and for the third year in a row Ruben Amaro Jr. got his man two days before baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline. Last year it was Roy Oswalt. Two years ago, it was Cliff Lee. It’s always sunny in Philadelphia as the Phillies continue to roll.
Hunter Pence joined WIP in Philadelphia with Rob Ellis and Paul Jolovitz to discuss going from a last place team in Houston to a first place team in Philadelphia over the trading deadline, having any inclination that Philadelphia wanted him over the trading deadline, his first impressions of Philadelphia Phillies fans, his first impressions of his teammates in the locker room and his playing style fitting perfectly with the Philadelphia sports mentality.
It’s gotta blow your mind to go from a last place team to a first place team with this much depth and talent?
“Absolutely. That’s the best way to put it. To be a part of this team is the ultimate opportunity as a baseball player and as a competitor where our expectations are to win a World Series. As a kid that has been my goal, my dream, every day I wake up. That is why I put in the work and make all the sacrifices, so this is really just an absolute wonderful opportunity and I am having so much fun.”
When you heard you were on the trading block did you know Philadelphia was on the radar for you? What were your emotions? How did you deal with that?
“It was weird. It was just like mixed emotions. I was just kind of uneasy. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t…when you’re in a city playing for a team you don’t want to think about where else you want to go. You want to try to do the best you can where you are at. Ultimately I think it ended up being great for everyone. Houston got some prospects. They were in transition. I think I fit in well with Philly. I don’t think there could have been a better fit looking back on it now. I think everything worked out great and I couldn’t be happier.”
What was it like for you with your first impression of the fans here in Philadelphia?
“It was as warm a welcome… way more than I expected. It gave me chills. I really wasn’t prepared to run out to the field and everyone be cheering. I was kind of in awe. I just gave them a wave of appreciation. Really, really just awestruck and ecstatic to be a part of this. I think I’m still walking on cloud nine today, even though we’re on the road. There are Phillies fans everywhere. I’ve never been on the road and feelin’ as much love in the right field stands as I did in Colorado. It still felt like home for some reason.”
Talk about some of your teammates that you are in the locker-room with right now? I know the other day Chase Utley gave you the tour of the city right?
“It just seems like everyone is extremely professional. Every one is about the team. You know they all kind of opened their arms and said anything I need. I’m pretty lucky to be on this team here. All the guys are here to help. If I have any questions…like I said I was in the food room and I was asking him [Chase Utley] how he prepares. I was like ‘hey man I just want to go about seeing what you do and see what I can pick up and what time you get to the ball field?’ He goes ‘what hotel are you staying at the Ritz-Carlton?’ I was like ‘no the Westin.’ He said ‘okay I’ll pick you up at 9.’ I was like ‘well I can just take a cab. I’ll just ask him what time.’ He goes ‘no.’ He goes ‘yeah you can take a cab, but I will pick you up at 9.’ It’s just that kind of thing. He is just a good team guy. From what I have watched from a distance there’s a reason why the Phillies are where they are with them leading the way.”
Did you realize that you’re hustling style would fit with this city?
“I got a tweet one time from someone from Philly that I really liked. It said something like ‘Hunter Pence he reminds me of the lunch box mentality. Bring your lunch pail to work.’ I think that is kind of what Philly stands for in my mind a little bit. These guys love their sports and they love to work hard. There’s no such thing as something for nothing. I take pride in trying to come out and controlling what I control, which is my preparation and my hustle on the field, so I might go outhustle the other team every day.”