Hitless Pence working to make changes
Hunter Pence, arguably the hardest-working Astros offensive player, faced the media with dignity like he does after every game, win or lose, on Wednesday and spoke of his team’s offensive struggles. He’s perhaps the poster child for Houston’s poor performance at the plate in the first three games, but there’s plenty of room on the wall for other faces.
Pence, an All-Star a year ago, is 0-for-12 with four strikeouts and is understandably feeling the frustration. But Michael Bourn and Carlos Lee are 2-for-12 (meaning the Astros’ starting outfield is 4-for-36), Geoff Blum is 2-for-9, Kaz Matsui and Pedro Feliz are hitting .250 and J.R. Towles is 1-for-8.
Still, being hitless after three games eats at Pence like nobody else.
“From my standpoint, never stepping up and not getting any hits, I’m trying to put better at-bats together,” he said. “I feel like there’s something off. I don’t feel like my at-bats have been as good as they should be, and it’s back to the drawing board. The good thing is to get it out of the way early. We have a day off [Thursday] to regroup, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it and make the adjustment.”
Pence has noticed that his front hip has been opening too early on his swing, making him feel uncomfortable at the plate.
“I know how to get out of it,” he said. “I’m confident in my talent and my ability and my preparation and work ethic. It’s not the way I want to start, and I definitely feel like I’ve got some work to do as far adjustments, but it’s something I’m capable of doing.”
With Lance Berkman out of the lineup for perhaps another week, Pence has been hitting in Berkman’s No. 3 spot in the batting. It’s a spot that comes with a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure, especially when Lee isn’t doing much with the bat in the No. 4 spot. Pence insists he’s not pressing because Berkman is out.
“I think for me, the only pressing would be to get going,” he said. “When it starts to avalanche on you, you start pressing to try to get a hit and do too much or too little and over think things. You think you have a heavy bat, so I really have to clear my mind and get back to the drawing board.”