KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Hustling between drills in his high socks and tight cap, Hunter Pence gives the young Houston Astros an old-school look.
And that works just fine for the 27-year-old right fielder, who has become a model of stability during four major league seasons. He has put up remarkably similar statistics in each of his three full seasons, including exactly 25 home runs in three straight years.
Fresh from winning a $6.9 million salary in arbitration, Pence has become a leader by example.
"I don't use any numbers as standards or goals," he said. "Baseball is a daily basis thing, it's a process. To me it's a long, focused effort and ultimately there are no individual numbers that can accomplish what I want to accomplish. That's to be a part of a winning team. Ultimately if you're winning, then everyone's going to prosper."
Even on a team that used 11 rookies last season, Pence is somewhat reluctant to think of himself as a leader. He said bringing teammates "together" is just one of his duties.
Manager Brad Mills calls him a treat.
"That leadership comes from how he plays the game more than anything else, and that will probably increase with each year," Mills said.
Pence was "very relieved" to have his arbitration matter settled Saturday.
"I came (to camp) early, but that's basically like your offseason program because they can't have it organized. You hit a little bit, you work out," he said Thursday. "When everyone comes together is when you can really get into it. Baseball is a team sport so you start getting that team stuff going on."
NOTES: The Astros went through another day of live batting practice Thursday, and will run the same routine Friday before a light day Saturday. "They've kind of gone through everything and they're ready to start playing games," Mills said . . . A six inning intrasquad game, not involving the regular hitters, will be played Sunday, and the Astros will open their exhibition season Monday against the Atlanta Braves at Disney World.