Jul 30, 2011, 6:27 PM EDT
There was quite a buzz about the arrival of Hunter Pence in Philadelphia this afternoon, in the Phillies clubhouse particularly. The addition of the coveted right-handed bat brought more media than usual, all interested in seeing Pence’s first moments at Citizens Bank Park.
“What is this, a party?” one typically vocal Phillies player quipped.
Camera men eventually moved outside, lining the outside of the Phillies dugout, setting up at just the right angle to catch the perfect shot of Pence walking through the corridor from the clubhouse to the field for the first time.
After what seemed like forever waiting on the hot field, there was a rumbling coming down the hallway.
It wasn’t Pence, but it was the first sign of the newest Phillie finally arriving.
“He’s coming! He’s coming!”
It was Ryan Howard’s 10-year old son Darian, wearing his very own Phillies cap, carrying a baseball glove of his own. The youngster appeared acutely aware of the hubbub being made over the newest Phillie.
Minutes later Pence finally walked out to plenty of applause from the gathering of fans over the Phillies dugout. He said some hellos, introduced himself to his new teammates, and quickly went out to his new home in right field to shag some fly balls.
Later, when addressing the media, Pence seemed thrilled to have the opportunity to man right field in Philadelphia.
“Most everyone knows that this is a baseball city, a very big sports city,” Pence said in his welcome-to-town press conference.
“Roy [Oswalt] and Brad [Lidge] told me that there’s nothing like it — the crowds, the fans, they’re extremely passionate. It’s a packed house I think 150-some games in a row. That says something about the atmosphere every night. They just said ‘You’re in for a treat. Have fun. Go play some baseball.’”
180 sell outs in a row to be exact (193 if you count the playoffs). But we’ll let that one minor error slip.
“It’s a relief to finally know where I’m at,” Pence said. “I’m happy that I found a good home, a place where people want me and we have an unbelievable team around me. I’m excited.”
Charlie Manuel and teammates seemed just as excited.
“From what I’ve seen of him, we couldn’t have gotten a better guy,” Manuel said of Pence before tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Another guy who was thrilled about Pence’s arrival was former teammate Roy Oswalt, who spent plenty of time on the middling Astros with Pence over the years. Oswalt thinks Pence’s great character will help him absolutely thrive in his new setting in Philadelphia.
“I think he’ll take off, I believe he’ll feel the atmosphere here, coming to play in front of 45,000 people that are into the ball game. It’s gonna add that much more to his game,” Oswalt said
The Phillies got the guy they seem to have wanted all along. Their roster seems all but set for an exciting postseason run. Hunter Pence is excited to be here, and he’s ready to deliver a few historic moments to the Philly faithful.
“Now I’m in a place where they really want me, where we got a chance to do something special, to create some historic moments for Philadelphia and the game of baseball. It’s an unbelievable opportunity and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Placido Polanco is also in the lineup batting seventh this evening when James McDonald (7-4, 3.95) takes on Cliff Lee (9-7, 3.05). First pitch scheduled for 7:05
Here’s video of Pence before tonight’s game:
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