Playing spring opener important step for Pence

Playing spring opener important step for Pence

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Do not underestimate Hunter Pence's enthusiasm.

Participating in the Giants' Cactus League opener Friday against the Cincinnati Reds was a top priority for the right fielder, who believed that he made a statement to all onlookers by digging in the batter's box for two plate appearances and playing three innings in right field.

Having appeared in 158 games during the previous two seasons due to various injuries, Pence intends to resume being an everyday presence in the lineup, as he was with Houston, Philadelphia and San Francisco from 2008 to 2014.

"I just like to be out there for Game One," said Pence, who lashed a first-inning RBI double in the Giants' 6-4 win. "It's a message. It's good to be in there. I have every intention of being ready to play this whole season. So getting out there for Game One was important to me. Probably not to many other people, but [it was] to me."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy understood. After all, he has been privy to Pence's moods since the middle of the 2012 season. Bochy didn't consider denying his cleanup hitter the satisfaction of performing.

"He wanted to play today," Bochy said. "I'm sure he's heard it from the fans, not in a bad way, just, 'Hey, stay healthy.'"

Pence acknowledged drawing energy from the Scottsdale Stadium crowd, which maintained a steady hum of excitement all afternoon.

"Absolutely," Pence said. "It's like, baseball's back. Once games start, it's really back. You've got umpires, you've got the whole shebang. It's a good feeling to have a game going on. You're not just working out in the weight room and taking batting practice off machines. It's a good atmosphere."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.