Hunter Pence paused when asked if he’ll have a normal offseason.
“I don’t ever have a normal day,” Pence said. “So probably not.”
This season certainly wasn’t a normal one for Pence. The San Francisco Giants right fielder with the reputation for durability played in just 52 games, limited by a fractured forearm, wrist tendinitis and a strained oblique muscle. He continues to recover from the latter injury, which rendered him unable to unleash his trademark violent swing.
Pence, though, said before Sunday’s season finale between the Giants and Colorado Rockies that he hopes to be cleared soon from the oblique injury to start off-season workouts.
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“I’m still not ready to do a lot of things that I would like to do,” Pence said. “But I think … I’ll be able to start probably on time.”
Pence surely did not enjoy how much of this season he spent watching from the bench, though he remained a vocal leader in the clubhouse. He did have the opportunity to watch the arc of the Giants’ season, and said Sunday that although the team is not going to the postseason, there are reasons to be excited going forward.
“There were a lot of strong (individual) seasons, and a lot of guys that did an incredible job,” Pence said. “We have a really good look going into next year. But that’s the thing I think everyone will say in spring training, is we have to stay healthy.”
Pence pointed specifically to the emergence of rookies Matt Duffy and Kelby Tomlinson as reason for optimism. The Giants already have a core of young players including Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Madison Bumgarner and Joe Panik, and Pence said that seeing Duffy and Tomlinson step in to replace struggling or injured players in their first full big-league seasons bodes well for the future.
“You don’t just find middle-of-the-order, top-of-the-order talent,” Pence said. “Usually you have to spend a ton of money on a free agent. When you can get young players that can fill those roles, you create a window of success.”
Next spring, Pence intends to be back in the lineup – and said he won’t necessarily avoid those early Cactus League games when teams tend to pitch their younger prospects. One such pitcher’s errant delivery broke Pence’s forearm in March, resulting in his beginning the year on the DL and setting the tone for a season that did not – for either Pence or the Giants – go as planned.
“There are some things,” Pence said, “you can’t control.”
▪ Not much else pre-game news as the Giants came together for their final game before the season ends. They’ll honor outgoing reliever Jeremy Affeldt in a ceremony before the game. Then right-hander Matt Cain will take the field with this lineup behind him:
And the Rockies’ lineup: