Down on the Farm: Breaking down Hunter Pence's new swing


Down on the Farm: Breaking down Hunter Pence's new swing

Your local high school coach wouldn't know what to do with Hunter Pence at team tryouts. Pence throws a baseball like a shot put state champion and when he's in the box he moves around like the kid that really wants to dance at his first homecoming but has no idea what he's doing. 

That coach better put Pence on his team, and not for comic relief. Pence is a three-time All-Star, two time-time World Series winner and has hit .390 in 11 Fall Classic games. The veteran is a presence with a positive aura and comes up clutch in the biggest spots. 

The last two years, however, the 35-year-old has started to show his age. Over last season and 17 games this season, Pence is batting .250 with a .303 on-base percentage and .365 slugging percentage. In the short time that he has been healthy this year, Pence was batting a rough-to-look-at .172 for the Giants. 

Is it time for Mr. Unorthodox to make a change? It looks like that's what Pence is doing during his rehab assignment in Triple-A. In a tweet sent out on Monday, you can see the changes in Pence's new swing. 

When watching the video, the new swing stands out right away. To start with, Pence is usually in an open, spread out stance. We can see here he is standing tall with his feet much closer together and he appears just slightly open. 

Pence has also changed where his hands initially start. He is holding the bat much lower and more upright. Ironically, this looks a lot like the man who may have stolen Pence's job if he was healthy right now -- Mac Williamson. Even Pence's leg kick is slower and less jerky, much like Mac's. 

And the results have been positive in a small sample. While the video was released on Monday, it's key that Pence has been doing this for a few days before then. He returned to the River Cats' lineup two days before on Saturday, so we can assume the changes started then in games. 

Since Pence's changes to his swing presumably began, he is hitting .467 (7-for-15) with two doubles, three RBI and two strikeouts. So far, so good. 

It is still not yet known when Pence will join the Giants again or what the team will do when both he and Williamson are healthy. It was only yesterday that Williamson basically hit a batting practice home run to the moon and he could begin his rehab assignment this weekend as he progresses from his concussion. 

The players and Bruce Bochy alike love Pence for what he brings to the team aside from the stats. At times, he looked completely lost this year. Even if he is never back to his old self, perhaps Pence and his new swing could be a boost off the bench for this team like another fan favorite has been in Pablo Sandoval. 

Giants drop third straight as Reds and Matt Harvey flirt with no-hitter

Giants drop third straight as Reds and Matt Harvey flirt with no-hitter


CINCINNATI -- Matt Harvey took a no-hit try into the sixth inning, Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera backed him with home runs and the Cincinnati Reds dominated Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants 7-1 on Saturday night.

Scooter Gennett had three hits for the second straight night and scored three runs, Peraza had two hits and scored twice and Brandon Dixon drove in two runs with a bases-loaded double. Cincinnati sent the Giants to their third straight loss after winning three in a row.

Harvey (6-7) didn't give up a hit until there were two outs in the sixth, when Joe Panik beat out a grounder that shortstop Peraza backhanded deep in the hole.

Harvey threw 6 1/3 shutout innings, allowing four hits and a walk with five strikeouts. He drew a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout, and improved to 6-5 in 17 starts for the Reds since being acquired from the Mets for catcher Devin Mesoraco on May 8.

Bumgarner (4-5) turned in the worst of his 14 starts this season, setting season highs by allowing six runs and eight hits in six innings.

Peraza led off a three-run fourth with a line shot into the left field seats. Dixon capped the inning with a broken-bat blooper down the right field line.

The Reds added two runs in the fifth on Phillip Ervin's bases-loaded sacrifice fly. Peraza scored from third and Gennett came around on center fielder Stephen Duggar's throwing error. Herrera led off the sixth with his third homer of the season.

The Giants scored their only run when the Reds couldn't complete a double play on Evan Longoria's bases-loaded grounder with one out in the eighth.


Giants: RHP Hunter Strickland was activated from the 60-day disabled list. The team saves leader with 13 was out since June 10 with a fractured right hand. INF Pablo Sandoval was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Sandoval has been out since July 30 with a strained right hamstring.


Giants: LHP Andrew Suarez (4-8) allowed five runs in six innings of a 6-3 Reds win on May 16 in San Francisco.

Reds: After allowing one home run in five July starts, RHP Luis Castillo (6-10) has been roughed up for three in his two August outings.

Giants activate Hunter Strickland after missing two months

Giants activate Hunter Strickland after missing two months

The Giants re-instated reliever Hunter Strickland from the 60-day DL Saturday ahead of their game against the Reds.

In corresponding moves, Dereck Rodriguez has been placed on the 10-day DL and Pablo Sandoval has been transferred to the 60-day DL.

Strickland missed the last two months with a fractured right hand after losing his temper in a blown save against the Marlins. After being taken out of a 5-4 loss at home, Strickland went into the dugout and punched a door with his throwing hand. 

The Giants could certainly use Strickland out of the bullpen in the thick of a playoff race. Strickland is 3-3 with a 2.84 ERA and has 13 saves on the season. 

On Friday night, the Giants lost in extra innings as Phillip Ervin took Ray Black deep in the 11th. The Giants (61-61) are seven games back in the NL West and 6.5 games back in the wild card race.