SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If any fans are going to mark up a new Hunter Pence sign to hold, they might want to consider: "Hunter Pence Likes Pilates."
Pence has been a 120 percenter who played every game in 2013 and 2014, and missed just two games in 2012. Yet the Giants outfielder missed 110 games last season due to a series of injuries; his left forearm was broken by a pitch in spring training, then tendinitis developed in his left wrist after he returned, and then he strained an oblique muscle in August that ended his season.
He said the oblique strain led him to start doing Pilates, which helped him with flexibility, movement and strength.
"After the oblique thing, there wasn't anything I could do other than the Pilates," he said. "And when I was doing it, it was like, this is perfect for getting it back to the right way. And as I started doing it, I started realizing the benefits of it. I didn't feel like I was doing very much but I noticed a good feel, so I kept doing it."
Pence was slowed early this spring by a sore Achilles, and the San Francisco Giants have been careful to keep him healthy. But with less than two weeks remaining before the season opener, he appears to be in great form. Tuesday night, he hit two home runs against the Arizona Diamondbacks, giving him five homers in seven spring games, along with a 1.069 on-base percentage.
“I think I made a very wise decision to play it safe and I feel great," Pence said. "The main goal is to have the body ready to go for the season and have a good rhythm."
Pence, who played a vital role in the Giants' 2012 and 2014 World Series championships, turns 33 in April. After being an every-day player, he said he has to be open to taking some games off to recharge himself.
"That could be the best way I can help the team," he said. "My stubbornness didn't want to accept that, but it's possible. ... I have no goal other than to give my all to win each game and be as smart as I can to be able to do that for the most games and lead to a World Series run. The whole goal in my mindset is, each day, each moment, to stretch my potential to find a way to help us win a World Series."