Injured Slugger Hunter Pence Talks Video Games

San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence has two World Series rings at his home, alongside a collection of classic Nintendo cartridges. Pence, who has won a pair of championships in less than three years in San Francisco, grew up with a game controller in his hands. The slugger, who recently broke his left arm, likes to relax by playing games, during the season or off, whether he’s on the road or at home. 

What do you think of the new MLB: The Show game?

It’s pretty impressive. I’ve got to admit, it’s so realistic it’s tough to believe this is actually the first time I’ve jumped into MLB: The Show game. I haven’t been playing that many baseball games for a while, but they got me hooked pretty quick. Sony has a beginner mode that helps you ease into the game, where you can get a feel for hitting before you get pounded with how difficult the actual game is. When I jumped in for my first at bat with myself, I hit a homer, and that was pretty cool.

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They have a post season mode that’s pretty intense. They’ve got the controller rattling. You can feel the difference. The crowd’s going crazy, the atmosphere is great. Honestly, when I walked in and saw it on the TV I was like, “Who’s playing baseball right now” because it was on the big screen at the stadium. First of all, I didn’t know you could hook up the PlayStation to that. It was so real I thought I was late for Spring Training? 

How do you think your unique batting stance is represented in the game?

They did a pretty good job. When I’m looking at it I definitely can see that the mannerisms are pretty right-on. They did a good job getting my stance. It’s going to take a little work to get the warm-up swing. The stance is great and really I can’t believe how much they’ve got the mannerisms of a lot of the players. Being in the league for awhile and seeing the guys, it feels like you’re really watching them play. 

How do you think baseball video games are opening the audience for baseball around the world?

I think it is a big deal. When I was a kid, I was a huge gamer. I love games. The baseball games I played as a kid made the pros seem huge. When I met the players I was like, “I loved hitting with you, you were so good in whatever baseball game that I played.” So I think it is very important to be able to create your own guy and have different modifications and ways to play the game and come up through the minor leagues. Those are the things that I really like in sports games. When I go home and play this game, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to create a guy and travel through and build up my character. That’s a lot of fun for me.

What advice would you give players that are playing as the Giants?

We have a pretty solid line-up. We have a pretty good defense and pretty good pitching. I’d say just use the average swing. We have plenty of pop in the game. You’re going to have a strong team. Obviously, with our pitching staff, you can’t go wrong with Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner and Sergio Romo in the bullpen. Stay down in the zone.

How realistic is this video game?

It’s amazing how well they have the pitches, like the fastball that’s cutting in on you. It definitely brings you back to actually batting in the batter’s box, which I think is pretty cool.

What’s your favorite aspect of the game?

I like to hit. It’s the same in the real game as in the video game. I like the mode of being able to create your own player, which allows you to hit a whole bunch. I love hitting. Pitching is fun and all, but I’m just that offensive-minded guy. Going deep it doesn’t get any better than that — in real life or in the game.

Do you feel like you hit more home runs in the game or in real life?

Probably in the game. It’s tough to hit them in real life. It’s been one day and I’ve already hit three homeruns today. 

How do you feel your stats stack up in the game?

The statistics that they have on me in the game are my actual real-life statistics. I’m batting .500 in the game. My guy is a beast. You want to play with Hunter Pence.

NFL rookies use the Madden game as preparation when they come into the NFL. Based on the realism of the MLB video games, are there things that rookies coming into the Bigs can learn?

As far as that’s concerned I don’t think it’s on the same scale. In Madden there are schemes and football’s a completely different game than baseball is. There are some things you can learn. One of the biggest things is learning base running for kids, learning and understanding situations that are taught throughout playing the game. The more you play it, the more easy it’s going to come to you. But as far as hitting against a Major League Pitcher in real life versus hitting one in the game, it’s definitely a little different. But there are like several small things that you can constantly improve on with your instincts through playing games like this.