Hunter Pence Grateful for Opportunity to Win in Philly

Hunter Pence Grateful for Opportunity to Win in Philly

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."

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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:

Give and Go: No. 3 pick or an impact free agent more important for Sixers?

Give and Go: No. 3 pick or an impact free agent more important for Sixers?

Before the offseason craziness starts, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are CSNPhilly.com Sixers Insider Jessica Camerato and producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.

In this edition, we analyze whether the No. 3 pick or adding an impact free agent is more important for the Sixers.

Camerato
The Sixers have the third pick in the 2017 draft. 
 
They also had the same pick in 2014. 
 
And 2015. 
 
And the number one pick in 2016.
 
The No. 3 is a nice addition of potential young talent, but how much further does *another* high lottery pick progress the Sixers?
 
The team is at a point where they need more experienced players to boost the development of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric … and basically everyone on the roster except Jerryd Bayless, who is the only player under contract for next season with more than four years of NBA experience.
 
Veterans make younger players around them better. This isn’t only being a voice in the locker room either. This season the Sixers could greatly benefit from a vet who is in game with them, not just on the bench. Look at what 35-year-old Joe Johnson did for the Jazz this season. 
 
Do the Sixers need to go out and sign a big name free agent to a max contract? No. They have the money to spend but also a lot of questions to answer about Simmons’ role and Embiid’s health before locking in someone long-term. 
 
Can adding experience develop them further than potential would at this point? Yes.

Haughton
There's always a delicate balance between blending homegrown talent and free agents. With this Sixers team, I think adding another young piece to the core with the No. 3 pick is far more important than luring someone on the free-agent market.

If we're being honest about the team's roster, there are only two real difference makers in Embiid and, in all likelihood, Simmons. In that third draft slot, the Sixers have an opportunity to select yet another top-tier talent and address an area of need (guard or wing) without spending a boatload of cash.

The Sixers' youthful makeup resembles a college team and makes it easier for rookies to mix into the group. That also means the draft pick has a chance to grow on the same track as his teammates and build for the long-term betterment of "The Process" instead of a free agent that is likely trying to speed things up to win now.

Speaking of FAs, there will be a nice pool of guys available for the Sixers. However, it's not like any of them are going to put the team over the top and in the conversation for any postseason hardware.

Stick to the script and focus on the draft. Whichever player hears his name called at No. 3 will have a far bigger fingerprint on where this franchise goes next than anyone acquired via free agency.

Hudrick
The Sixers have identified Embiid and Simmons as their franchise players. Embiid is 23 and Simmons will turn 21 in July. Embiid has played in 31 games and Simmons has yet to take the floor.

I mention this because this Sixers team is still very much building. They're nowhere near a finished product. The veteran additions of Gerald Henderson and Bayless (who was limited to mostly a mentoring role last season) no doubt helped the team last season. But what does signing a marquee free agent do? 

Looking at the market, the two most obvious choices are point guard Kyle Lowry (31) and two guard J.J. Redick (32). Lowry and Redick both fills needs and will make the Sixers better immediately. 

But this team won 28 games last year while only having Embiid for 31 games and not having Simmons at all. Add the No. 3 overall pick to that equation -- whether it's Josh Jackson, Malik Monk, Jayson Tatum or De'Aaron Fox -- and the Sixers should improve on that mark.

There will be a time to sign a big-name free agent. I'm just not sure this is the offseason to do it. They need to get their first-round pick in here and see how that player gels with the team's core. After you see how the team starts to take shape, that's when you need to add a free agent to put you over the top.

Tonight's lineup: Howie Kendrick returns, Odubel Herrera rides the pine

Tonight's lineup: Howie Kendrick returns, Odubel Herrera rides the pine

Updated: 4:33 p.m.

Howie Kendrick is back after a month and a half on the disabled list while Odubel Herrera is heading to the bench for a few days.

The Phillies reinstated Kendrick from the DL and he's in the lineup, batting second and playing left field vs. the Marlins (7:10/CSN and CSNPhilly.com). Meanwhile, manager Pete Mackanin said pregame slumping center fielder Odubel Herrera will be on the bench both today and tomorrow. Maikel Franco was moved down further in the lineup.

Kendrick batted a sterling .333 in his 39 at-bats in April, looking the part of a top-of-the-order hitter. The former infielder played only left field during his 10 games before going down with an oblique injury (see game notes). He gives the Phillies a chance to rest their outfielders or allow them a new look in the corner infield. 

Herrera is in the midst of a 1-for-22 slide that has brought his batting average down to .217. Mackanin said postgame on Sunday that he would move Herrera down in the lineup and would give him a few days off at some point with Kendrick back as an extra outfielder. Mackanin hoped time off would help lessen the pressure on the scuffling Herrera.

Mackanin also mentioned the inconsistent at-bats of Franco, who is down to seventh in the lineup. Catcher Cameron Rupp was moved ahead of him to sixth in the order with Franco batting .213 and going 2 for 18 since his eight-game hitting streak ended on Monday.

Jeremy Hellickson makes his first start since allowing a seven-run third inning to the Rockies on Wednesday. The good news for the righty is that he dominated the Marlins last season and was similiarly strong in a victory vs. the Fish in April.

Here's the full lineup that will oppose Edinson Volquez:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Howie Kendrick, LF
3. Aaron Altherr, CF
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Maikel Franco, 3B
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jeremy Hellickson, P