SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence came into the clubhouse Friday as upbeat as a man could be, confronted by the news that he’s looking at starting the season on the disabled list with a broken bone in his forearm, endangering his being in the lineup in April, let alone Opening Day.
“You control what you can control,” Pence said. “These things happen. It’s part of the game. You can never be upset when you’re competing and something like that happens when there’s no malicious intent. It really couldn’t have happened at a much better time; I have a lot of time to get healthy and get back for regular-season games. So I’m grateful it was timed this early.”
Pence was pretty sure the injury was serious right away. “There’s no way of knowing, but I had a confident feeling that it wasn’t good when it hit me. ... I heal pretty fast, generally, usually quicker than I’m supposed to.”
The injury that Pence suffered to his wrist in 2007 was not nearly as serious -- it was a sprained right wrist capsule that pulled away a tiny bit of bone (a small chip fracture). That nevertheless cost him 27 games with the Astros, so it isn’t necessarily a good guide for what to expect from this very different injury.
But does Pence believe that he can come back sooner than the initial estimate of 6-8 weeks? “We’ll see, I’ll do the best that I can, focus as hard as I can. I love to play, but as far as that, I’m going to take care of everything I can, but also be there for the guys, helping out with whatever little parts I can, even when I can’t play.”
When asked about when he could resume physical activity, Pence said, “I don’t know yet.”
Perhaps predictably given his hard-earned reputation for hustle, Pence asked what he could do on Friday, and had to be told by the Giants training staff nothing yet. But even then, he was philosophical about it.
“Sometimes doing nothing is doing something, because I’m healing,” Pence said. “I think there’s a couple of questions and physical things as far as workouts; they told me they can’t do anything today, but there are couple of things we’re going to have to discuss, about how to heal this as quick as possible. There are a couple of scenarios that we’re looking at, not even regarding the arm.”
And about how long might it take to get the cast off, which is anticipated to be six weeks, he was blunt: “I have no idea. I’m just taking on today. Regardless of whether or not I’m able to play [on Opening Day], the focus is on the team, doing everything we can to go to the playoffs and chase the World Series. There’s a huge process in that; that’s the main focus, to get the most out of each and every one of us, the whole team.”
But the reliably upbeat outfielder then joked, “the saddest part is I can’t comb my hair any more, so I apologize about what you have to look at.”
Catcher Buster Posey quipped, “Nobody is more positive than Hunter.”
Once the cast comes off, Pence is looking at a compressed preparation schedule to get back into action with the team, but he’s confident that he’ll be able to get up to speed in short order: “don’t really know. I think a lot of that is mental. There’s also ways that can help you get your typing back. Hopefully, watching some of the games, I’m going to try to mentally keep all that sharp.”
“Timing, I’m not even too worried about,” he added. “I’m more worried about the wrist, they said that this,” -- demonstrating that the concern is with his range of motion in his wrist on his swing -- “once I get the wrist strong enough, I should be fine,” he said.
As for Corey Black, the Cubs farmhand who hit him with the pitch, Pence was generous.
“I have no hard feelings towards him, I have no hard feelings towards the situation," Pence said. "It happens. That’s the respect among competitors. We’re here to compete in a game, and there are dangers. Let’s say I hit a ball and it hits a pitcher -- I’m not happy that I hit the pitcher. ... There are other times when you are hit on purpose, those things happen, and those you’re a little more upset about, but this is nothing, this is part of the game.”
Pence also got a ton of support from his teammates, which he greatly appreciated.
“It was touching," Pence said. "To me, it didn’t feel like it was that big a deal, it was a bone, I’m not dying. ... All of the concern felt really good, the fan support really was pretty special.”
Thinking about who the Giants will turn to in his absence, Pence was also confident about his team, a club that last year rebounded from significant injuries in-season to key players like first baseman Brandon Belt and outfielder Mike Morse.
“We have a lot of really, really good outfielders," Pence said. "Blanco looks great, he’s ready to play, we have all the faith in the world in him. We got Juan Perez, we got Maxwell. Aoki, obviously, is expected to be a starter. We have a strong unit.”
First baseman Brandon Belt focused on what the Giants have done time and again when it comes to replacing people.
“One of the great attributes about this team is that we have quite a few people that step up," Belt said. "We usually manage until a guy comes back. The past two times we won the World Series, we had big people go down. Last year, we lost Angel [Pagan] for the entire season, we lost Melky [Cabrera] back in 2012. We just have this knack, a lot of guys step up, we never let up. I’m not saying we can do this every time, and Hunter is a big loss, we want to get him back ASAP, but I know that we’ll be able to have somebody step up and do the job.”
Posey was similarly confident the Giants would roll with this latest setback.
“Doing things differently is one of the things you try not to do whenever you lose somebody, is not do more than you should, or not more than your capabilities," Posey said. "You just trust that there’s somebody who can come up. Obviously, Hunter is a very unique player, and the time that he’s out, we’ll miss him. But he also keeps himself in shape really well, so I think that will help his recovery -- or at least I like to think it will.
Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.