SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Hunter Pence hustled in to take batting practice, exhibiting that familiar energy as fans cheered. He smiled and raised his cap high in the air.
This is just the start of spring training, and it's clear Pence is a crowd favorite for San Francisco once more. And the outfielder is in his element again as he approaches his 37th birthday. The Giants opened their gates to fans for the first full-squad workout and Pence was as popular as ever after a year away. "We all noticed that," new manager Gabe Kapler said of the rousing ovations.
"It's great," Pence said. "It's extremely exciting for me to be back. It's definitely fun with a lot of new faces and a lot of new staff. I'm just thrilled to be back, thrilled to see the fans, every day getting to do something I love to do so much, obviously. Especially with how things went - it's part of the game, the nature of the game - I really appreciate every bit of it, every little thing. It's a joy to be a part of. It's definitely special to wear the black and orange. I've been here so long."