SAN FRANCISCO — The targets for Hunter Pence at AT&T Park are plentiful. There is the giant Coca-Cola bottle in left field and a body of water beyond the rightfield wall. His batting-practice shows have traveled from Houston to Philadelphia and now here, where Pence swung with all his might Tuesday afternoon.
Pence, in his first game against his former team Monday, provided a show. He homered, doubled and singled against Cliff Lee. His .847 OPS ranked second on the Giants entering play Tuesday.
The Phillies possessed Pence for one year. They knew they were surrendering offensive production in right field when they dealt him to San Francisco last July, but it was with the intention of shedding another big-money contract.
Pence is making $13.8 million for the Giants in 2013 and is a free agent at season's end. The five outfielders on the Phillies roster will earn a total of $3.9 million. As a group, they ranked last in baseball with a .612 OPS before Tuesday.
When the Phillies needed Pence to anchor their lineup at the start of 2012, he failed. Given his salary, the Phillies deemed him expendable.
"When we first got him, he was comfortable with us," Charlie Manuel said. "Now when I watch him play, he feels comfortable. I've always liked Pence and what he gives you. He comes to the ball park, he works just as hard as anybody. He hustles. He plays hard. You can’t help but like him."
Pence carried a six-game hitting streak into Tuesday. He was batting .458 with a 1.355 OPS in those games.
"I'd have like to seen us throw some balls out of the strike zone and see if he wanted to chase them," Manuel said. "He gets excited sometimes."
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