Pence out of lineup, not traded

The news that Astros All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence was out of manager Brad Mills’ starting lineup Wednesday against the Cardinals caused quite a stir. Pence has been the subject of numerous trade rumors, but his absence from the lineup had nothing to do with that.

Mills had been looking for a good spot to give Pence a day off during this week’s four-game series against the Cardinals, and he found it Wednesday afternoon. Pence was out of the lineup for the first since June 22, a span of 27 games.

Mills acknowledged Pence’s recent struggles – he’s hitting .158 on the Astros’ current 10-game road trip – and the fact didn’t get to rest during the All-Star break because he was the team’s lone representative to make the National League All-Star team.

“If there’s anybody that’s tough to give a day off on this club, it’s Hunter because he’s such a good player and everything else,” Mills said. “He’s kind of struggled a little bit after the All-Star break and the weather on this trip has been extremely warm and he completely wears himself out every night because he plays so hard. No night is a good night to give him a day off, but he needs one.”

Pence admitted a day out of the lineup can be beneficial on occasion.

“There’s a lot of games we play, and I think sometimes it can help,” he said. “Obviously, as a team and myself, we haven’t been doing the best job. It’s part of baseball. You go through some ups and downs and sometimes you get a day off. How many players haven’t had a day off? Not very many, right?

“I don’t love having days off, but that’s what he told me. He’s the manager. Sometimes it’s good for you. I wear the way the season’s going pretty hard. I’m going to be ready in case he needs me and use [the time off] to turn this thing around and propel myself forward.”

As far as the trade rumors go, Pence is aware.

“I haven’t been able to totally keep it out of my mind,” he said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with [my] performance. It’s something you can’t avoid. It’s the first time I’ve gone through something like this. It’s something I can’t control and I try to block it out as much as possible.”


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