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Pence elated but not surprised by Posey's big comeback

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Buster Posey Hunter Pence

One of the funniest home run calls of Jon Miller's career left Hunter Pence with a new moniker: Buster Posey's good friend. These days, though, Pence is enjoying life as simply a Giants fan, albeit one with a much greater connection to the current team than anyone else watching the games at home.

Posey is his good friend, and he's also kind of following a path that Pence himself took. After a couple of down seasons at the plate and his own issues staying healthy, Pence burst back onto the scene in 2019 with the Texas Rangers, hitting 18 homers in 286 at-bats and making the All-Star team as a 36-year-old. 

Posey, 34, is headed for a starting All-Star spot at the moment. He is hitting .400, and among players with more than 50 at-bats he ranks a clear first in OPS (1.231), 30 points ahead of Mike Trout. Pence lit up on this week's Giants Talk podcast when asked about Posey's surge, which doesn't seem to have surprised him.

"I think we took this player that's one of the best in the world and blessed and graced with, like, crazy hand-eye coordination, and he's built to hit, and he's insanely intelligent, and (he) dialed in his technique to get the most out of it," Pence said. 

Most of the attention over the past six weeks has been on Posey's health, particularly his ability to move the way he wants to after a summer off. But Posey also has made notable swing changes, closing his stance a bit, standing more upright, and holding his bat at different angle as he waits for a pitch. 

 

Pence made his own changes after the 2018 season, spending the offseason with hitting guru Doug Latta in Los Angeles. He sees the changes in Posey, but also sees a competitor whose body is able to match his mindset for the first time in years. Pence might have been the one showing all the energy on the field, but he said the quieter Posey is "one of the fiercest" competitors. 

"I'm talking intense, intense competitiveness that's like, 'Whoa!'" Pence said, leaning way back in his chair and throwing his hands up. "He was competing super-hurt and he would never say that, and he was still finding a way to get stuff done. Getting a fully healthy Buster Posey and then dialing the biomechanics and then his talent, his gift -- it's all shining through right now and we're getting to witness that greatness.

"It's so fun to watch."

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Posey hasn't slowed down after a stunning start to the season. Over his last eight games, he's 17-for-28 with four homes and two doubles. His homer Friday night was his first into the arcade in right field in nine years. 

"He's hitting oppo bombs without that much effort, way back," Pence said, smiling. "It's so satisfying to watch him hit and play and be healthy." 

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