You may have noticed a new addition to the left sidebar, listing all the Astros and Houston farmhands on Twitter. The impetus for setting that up was that we now have a Houston Astro active on both pages, talking with fans and giving away cool prizes. If you haven't seen, Hunter Pence is currently holding contests to give away free signed bobbleheads when his Twitter or Facebook accounts hit 6,000, 7,000, etc. followers. It's sort of unprecedented for a player to give fans this sort of availability and Pence has been great about interacting with his followers. He recently agreed to an interview with The Crawfish Boxes via email. Check this out, then go sign up for his social media accounts (@hunterpence9 and Facebook) so you can win free stuff.
TCB: First off, thanks for joining the ranks of the social media. I'm sure you can tell from the outpouring on Twitter that you're pretty popular amongst Astros fans. What made you decide to set up both the Twitter account and the Facebook page? What's it been like to interact with fans on those sites?
Hunter Pence: I mainly set it up so I can interact with fans and get out there more. I also wanted to give away some stuff. It’s all about connecting with the fan base. I didn’t realize how much fun it would be until after I got started. The fans are a big help, like when I need recommendations for a restaurant in a city. It’s also encouraging to get the support from the fans. It’s a real confidence-booster. I read everything I get. Also, when I see the fans at the game, it makes me feel closer to them.
The Astros have also been great at supporting it. They have their own Twitter and Facebook pages, but they are obviously excited to have a player on there talking to fans as well.
HP: Personally, I try to learn from my mistakes and grow from failure. I think that’s the same with a team. This organization has come together and we’ve built a solid foundation moving forward. We feel like we have a bright future and the way we’re playing, we feel like we can beat anybody. We want to finish strong and have that carry over into next season.
TCB: Being a veteran now, you've played for three different managers in the big leagues[ed. note: I forgot Dave Clark, which Pence corrects me on here. Mea culpa]. What jumped out at you first about Brad Mills after he took over the team? Was it a hard adjustment getting used to his style?
HP: Actually, it’s been four managers. Brad is really organized, and he’s good at communicating with the players. He goes about business the right way and gives us the best chance to succeed. I think it’s remarkable how he handled the adversity earlier in the season and continued to have confidence in us. He’s had a lot to do with the atmosphere right now and the winning attitude.
TCB: The Oswalt and Berkman trades must've been tough from a personal perspective, since you're losing teammates that have been there since your rookie season. How does it feel now, though, to be one of the longest-tenured Astros?
HP: I think everything worked out good for everybody. You have to give credit to those two guys for what they gave to the organization over the years and also for helping to bring in huge pieces for our future. Losing Sean Berry (the hitting coach) was tough on me personally but Bagwell has been great. Sometimes change can be a benefit, even though it’s difficult.
TCB: Everyone wants to point at Jeff Bagwell's appointment as hitting coach as a turning point for the offense. Certainly, luck has probably played a part, with guys getting hits to fall in here or there when they weren't earlier in the season. But, what has Bagwell brought to the clubhouse as a coach? More generally, what role do you think is most important for a hitting coach to fill?
HP: Baggy brings an aura of confidence. He’s done so much in the game that he brings instant credibility. He’s old school. Get in there and compete. Don’t overthink it and just be ready to hit. We have a good time too. We’re always joking around. Sometimes you have to lighten the mood and make fun of yourself. This game is hard and you have to get used to failure. He’ll always have something funny to say to make you laugh and take the pressure off.