PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel is in his 50th year of professional baseball and there aren't many things he enjoys more than talking hitting. When it comes to Hunter Pence, though, the Phillies manager admits he really doesn't know what to say.
"Hunter chases bad balls at times. He's different from any hitter I've ever had. We don't want to confuse him. We don't want him to get out of synch with his thinking. The way he approaches hitting, he will always swing at some balls out of the strike zone.
"Now, what we do about it, I don't know. You wouldn't call him a disciplined hitter. He's unorthodox. He's the kind of guy who, if he sees it and thinks he can hit it, he swings at it. Right now you've got to kind of accept that and hope he gets good balls to hit."
Pence leads the Phillies in homers (seven) but is also hitting 42 points under his career .292 average at the beginning of the season. In his last five games he's 2-for-21 (.095), but Manuel is inclined to let him find his own way, pointing out that some of the best hitters in history had less-than-classic swings.
"The old saying is, if it's not broke, don't fix it. That's kind of how I look at Hunter," he added. "My job is to get the most out of him and the best thing we can do, I don't know. I've never had a hitter like him. I don't know how to talk about him, to tell you the truth. He's different from any hitter I've ever talked to. I don't want to send him a bad message, that we don't like the way he hits."