SCOTTSDALE -- There are veteran players around the league who have pushed back on the statistical advances in baseball over the past decade, but Hunter Pence doesn't mind the flood of data.
"The technology is fun for fans," he said. "It's just like the radar gun is fun. Fans like to see it light up. From that aspect, it's very entertaining. I do enjoy seeing how fast you're running around the bases or how hard you hit it, strictly for fun."
Things like exit velocity will one day be a part of every broadcast, but there's a limit to how useful it is in the clubhouse.
"It's not like you're going to say, 'I hit that one 113 (mph), now I need to try this or try that,'" Pence said.
For the Giants, the readings on Tuesday night at Salt River Fields proved a simple point, one you could have seen from the box score: Pence is back, as strong as ever, and ready to again be a powerful right-handed bat in the heart of the order. He hit two homers against the Diamondbacks, the first leaving the park at 114 mph and the second at 113. Pence's hardest hit of any kind last season was 113.5 mph, which is no small feat when you consider the fact that he broke his arm at the start of spring training.
Pence was slowed this spring by Achilles tendinitis, but it didn't take him long to get going once he got into the lineup. He's tied for the Cactus League lead with five homers despite taking just 23 at-bats. Pence has driven in nine runs in seven appearances and he has 11 hits, good for a .478 average.
"My main goal has been to have my body ready to go when the season starts," he said. "And to have a good rhythm."
With a week to go before the Giants go home, Pence is there already, and he is eager to get back on the field after playing a career-low 52 games last season because of the arm injury and an oblique strain. Pence is already legendary for his work in the weight room, but he added Pilates to the rotation this offseason, in part to protect the oblique. He said that once he started doing Pilates during the healing process, he realized he could benefit by keeping it going. To protect his arm, which was never quite right after he returned, Pence will wear a guard on the field.
Then there's the mental side of staying on the field, and Pence has acknowledged that he may have to back off a bit. He is still Full Throttle, as he displayed Tuesday while chasing a fly ball deep into the corner only to have it glance off his glove, but there will be times when manager Bruce Bochy forces Pence to pull back. Bochy viewed the Achilles irritation as a blessing in disguise because it slowed Pence early in camp. It's unlikely that Bochy allows Pence to play 162 games again, as he did in 2013 and 2014.
"I think I have to be open to that," Pence said of getting more days off. "That could be the best way I can help the team. My stubbornness didn't accept that (before), but it's possible."
Bochy knows there is a limit, though. Pence will get additional days off, but it will be just a handful.
“Hunter is going to be Hunter," he said. "You can’t change him. You’re not going to slow him down. We want him to go, as we call him, Full Throttle. That’s who he is.”