Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com interviewed Pedro Martinez, who has been at Sox camp this spring working as a special assistant/coach/interview subject. He talked a lot about getting back to the game after two years away. But then he dropped this one:
“This may sound weird but I never considered myself a great player,” he said. “I made myself, along with my teammates, a better player than I was. I never thought I was a superstar. I worked like I was a hungry man going for the first game in the big leagues . . . There was a lot of work for me to do to have success.”
I guess that’s more properly read as him not considering himself a natural talent, but even that seems like insanely irrational modesty. He’s one of the greatest any of us has ever seen.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.