PHILADELPHIA -- Hunter Pence said this week in Los Angeles that the mere presence of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the Phillies' lineup has had a positive effect on everybody, both tangible and intangible.
It certainly seems to have helped Pence. Utley returned from the disabled list on June 27. Howard returned July 6. Pence was hitting .196 (19-for-97) with two doubles, one triple, three home runs, 27 RBIs and a .640 OPS with runners in scoring position from the beginning of the season through June 28. He is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with one home run, 11 RBIs and a 1.076 OPS with runners in scoring position since.
"I think that he's been hitting the ball with guys on base," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, implying it's just a matter of coincidence Pence has done a better job with RISP lately. "I think he's cutting and hitting it."
So having Utley and Howard back hasn't help relax him? Pence acknowledged putting too much pressure on himself earlier this season.
"I think he's been bearing down," Manuel said. "I think that he's really been concentrating on hitting the ball with guys on base. That's what I think, really."