Giants

Former Giant Hunter Pence finding success in Texas with rebuilt swing

Former Giant Hunter Pence finding success in Texas with rebuilt swing

OAKLAND – Hunter Pence spent seven seasons as a fan favorite in San Francisco, helping the Giants to World Series championships in 2012 and 2014. This week, he's back in the Bay Area as a member of the Texas Rangers.

"It always brings me good joy to be here," Pence said Monday. "I have a house in the city, so I got to sleep in that house and that was cool. It's always fun to be here."

Pence and the Rangers are in Oakland for a three-game series against the A's. The Fort Worth native signed a minor-league contract with his hometown team this offseason and made the big-league roster out of spring training. After a disappointing 2018 season with the Giants where Pence slashed just .226/.258/.332, the 36-year-old decided to completely revamp his swing. So far, it's paying off. In 11 games, Pence is slashing .281/.314/.469 with two home runs and six RBI.

"I feel somewhat like a rookie every day because, with a complete swing change, I'm learning and getting a little bit better each and every day," he said. "I'm trying to tweak and make it more consistent. But it's a lot of fun because it's new, so everything is fresh. I'm just really enjoying that process."

Pence actually played winter ball in the Dominican Republic for the first time this offseason to work on the swing changes. He admits it hasn't been an easy process, but he remains fully committed.

"I had to make a change," he said. "I had to get better and I had to trust the process. I made the decision. If you're going to play in this league, you have to contribute and you have to be able to help. I wouldn't want to be here unless I was able to contribute. I truly felt that this was the best opportunity to do that, to continue to do what I love."

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To Pence, the decision to rebuild his swing represented what might be his last chance to contribute at the major league level.

"I just completely bought in," Pence said. "If it wasn't meant to be, then I gave it everything I had, and whatever. But right now, it brings me a lot of joy, a lot of passion to come and play the game that I love. It's really exciting with something new. It's a fun new way to approach baseball and it feels like it helps you a lot. It works, so I feel good about it."

Pence looks back fondly on his time in the Bay Area but he's equally excited for this current opportunity to play for his hometown team.

"It's a lot of fun," he said. "It's a lot of in both places. I'm very fortunate everywhere I've gotten to play, I've loved every city. I think every city has different uniqueness and different things to enjoy and appreciate. Both have been great opportunities. ... (San Francisco) feels like a second home for me, for sure."

Pence and the Rangers are off to a surprising 12-8 start this season. While he will always cherish the great memories he created in San Francisco, he is completely focused on the present.

"I'm super happy with all that and in love with all that," Pence said of his achievements with the Giants. "But right now, I'm fully into playing with the Rangers and giving it everything I've got. We have a really exciting young team. I'm embracing this moment right now. I may reflect when I'm done, but right now I'm in the fire."

Logan Webb looks to make a statement at end of rookie season

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USATSI

Logan Webb looks to make a statement at end of rookie season

ATLANTA -- Logan Webb smiled Sunday afternoon and said he has adjusted to facing players he grew up watching. No longer does he stand on the mound and think, "Holy cow, I'm facing Manny Machado." But Webb can still get wide-eyed at times. 

The 22-year-old knows that plenty of former Giants are coming into town next week to celebrate Bruce Bochy, and he said he hopes to meet Jonathan Sanchez or Pat Burrell or ...

"Maybe Timmy?" Webb asked reporters. 

Lincecum hasn't shown up at the park in years, but the Giants are quietly optimistic that he will next weekend. If No. 55 does enter the clubhouse, Webb won't just be a fan. He'll be part of the process, a 22-year-old rookie set to face the Dodgers during Bochy's final series as manager. 

"I'm excited to see all the other stuff and take it all in," Webb said. "There are not many guys like (Bochy) who come around."

Webb has gotten to make seven starts for Bochy and Sunday's was the best. He limited the NL East champion Braves to two hits and one run over a career-high six innings. The Giants won 4-1 in Bochy's final road game. 

"I felt like today I was finally able to put it all together," Webb said. "I've got a lot more work to do but I felt a lot more confident and had command of all my pitches."

Webb mixed it up well, throwing 51 fastballs, 21 slurves and 18 changeups. He got 13 swinging strikes and had the Braves off balance all afternoon. Bochy said Webb is more polished than he anticipated.

"He's known for kind of a power sinker, but I think he's just getting better and better with his secondary pitches," Bochy said. "They're better than I thought. He's got a good breaking ball and changeup. He's got the weapons and arsenal to pitch up here because he's got command, too."

Webb walked two on Sunday and has issued two-or-fewer free passes in six of his seven starts. That command, plus the raw stuff, has kept him in the rotation after a promotion in mid-August. A season that was extremely trying early on is ending on a high note, and Webb hopes to keep it going. He's well aware that every pitch he throws is another chance to impress a front office that will look to build a strong rotation this winter. 

"I think all the young guys, that's what we're hoping to do," Webb said. "Obviously you want to do well for now, but we also set ourselves up for the future as well."

Ex-Giants slugger Adam Duvall still hitting for power in new Braves home

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Ex-Giants slugger Adam Duvall still hitting for power in new Braves home

ATLANTA -- It has slowed over time, but for a couple of years, Adam Duvall was The One Who Got Away for much of the Giants' fan base.

An organization that's had decades of trouble developing homegrown outfielders traded Duvall to the Reds and watched him hit 64 total homers in 2016 and 2017, and make an All-Star team. Duvall was far from Oracle Park, but as he broke through in Cincinnati, he was aware that fans grumbled about the deal.

"I have extended family [in the Bay Area] and they would talk about it," he said Friday. "I got an opportunity with the Reds to get a lot of playing time. For being a young guy, that was good for me to get some playing time and show what I could do."

The mistake the Giants made wasn't necessarily underestimating the power -- Duvall always had hit homers in the minors, including 30 in a season with High-A San Jose. The Giants simply didn't believe he could handle left field, and with Matt Duffy at third, they included Duvall in a 2015 deadline trade for Mike Leake. They wanted more consistent starting pitching. It didn't work out that way. 

Duvall's run in Cincinnati ended last year, when the home-run power wasn't enough to make up for a .205 average and .286 OBP. But he has found a role with the Braves, starting 23 games in the outfield and posting a .863 OPS. His homer against his old team Saturday night was his ninth in 103 at-bats for the NL East champs.

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The Braves clinched Friday night against some players Duvall considered mentors. Before Friday's game, Duvall said he's grateful for the work the Giants did in preparing him for the big leagues. He pointed to Buster Posey and Ryan Vogelsong -- who is coaching with the Giants this weekend -- as two former teammates who were particularly helpful. 

"That was a big, big part of my career when I first got introduced to playing in the big leagues," Duvall said. "They were a very professional group."