Focus Friday: Hunter Pence

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What is Hunter Pence’s favorite meal, when he’s not at the Buffalo Grille? Who has had the biggest influence on his life? What was the first concert he attended?

Welcome to Focus Friday, where we get to the bottom of things regarding your favorite Astros, while talking as little about baseball as possible. Consider Focus Friday a getting-to-know-you session, where we learn about the player — not as a player, but as a person.

The fun twist? The questions come from you, not us. Every week, we’ll ask our Twitter followers to send in their questions, and then we’ll pick the best of the bunch. You can find the video version on Twitter, and a transcript right here on this blog.

We caught up with Hunter during the Astros’ annual sign-everything-in-sight autograph session, hosted by the Community Development department. As you can see from the photo above, there were a few things on Hunter’s proverbial plate. This interview created a nice diversion.
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@vitaliano10: What are your thoughts on professional athletes using Social Media things like Twitter and Facebook?

@HunterPence9: I think it’s awesome. Even for me personally, I love sports and I love competing. I enjoy following some of the players in other leagues. I enjoy, whenever we do fantasy football, following my guys that are going to bring me through. I love hearing what they have to say. I get kind of excited when (Baltimore Ravens running back) Ray Rice is talking about his knee or the game or whatever it may be. I think it’s a great tool that we never had as
kids to really talk to our fans. For me personally, it’s getting feedback from the fans, being able to tell them certain things, kind of giving them an aspect of our personality they wouldn’t otherwise get.

@irishndude4: What are your top three road trip cities, judging by the stadium, city, etc.?

@HunterPence9: That’s a great question because I’ve never had it asked as a whole — the stadium and the city. It’s kind of a counterbalance. You could say that Chicago’s awesome, but the field and what we have to go through there is horrible. Well, it’s not horrible, but it’s definitely not the most comfortable locker room.

I love San Francisco’s stadium. It’s not necessarily hitter-friendly but the view, the bay, the energy of the fans…I’ve always liked that city. Obviously they’re not very nice to me, but they’re passionate about baseball. They’re throwing cans with strings trying to steal the balls from batting practice. We have (bullpen assistant) Strech Suba who gets mad at you if you throw a ball into the stands. So it’s a constant war and it’s kind of fun.

Also, San Diego, just because it’s such nice weather. You walk around the city in the morning, go to breakfast…there’s a mall, you can get a haircut.

The third one, I’m going to say Chicago, even though the locker room’s not that great. The city’s cool, and when you play the Cubs, the fans are wild and rowdy. There’s an intensity on the field just from what they bring. They’re packed in and they’re yelling at you and you want to prove them wrong.

@esandler: First concert? Favorite burger? Dream car? Best vacation?

@HunterPence9: (First concert) I don’t know if I want to admit this. I was in junior high or high school. I want to say it was Sugar Ray or something. There were a bunch of teenage girls there.

(Favorite burger) Grass-fed. We grilled out last night, actually, Cowboy Burgers from Whole Foods. It’s good stuff. We had a bunch of guys over last night. The new guy we picked up, Brian Dopirak, who’s in camp with us this year — he’s an amazing cook. Amazing griller. We’re just going to Whole Foods every day, it’s like our new tradition. We eat lunch, pick up a bunch of stuff, invite whoever wants to come over and we grill out every night.

(Dream car) I’m not much of a car guy. What I like — I would never buy one no matter what I make because I know it’s a waste of money, but I like Lamborghinis and Ferraris because they look cool. I don’t know enough about cars and I don’t think I would ever drive either one. I just like the look of them.

(Best vacation) I’m not a good person to ask, I’m not a vacation guy. I haven’t been on too many vacations. I would want to go to the wineries in Napa Valley. That’s somewhere I want to go.  

@benjamintitter: Who has had the most impact in your life? What did you learn from them?

@HunterPence9: I’ve had a lot of great impacts on my life. I think everyone, in whatever they do, needs a mentor, someone that’s been through something that you want to do. You should look for one and a lot of the people that have gone pretty far should be mentors to the younger kids coming up in your field, whatever it may be.

Obviously, my brother (Howie) has had the biggest impact. He’s four years old than me. A lot of older brothers would have kicked their younger brother to the curb. But he’s been my coach and my sidekick the whole way through. He’s my biggest fan and I definitely wouldn’t be here without him.

There’s been a lot of them along the way. (Darin) Erstad was a big mentor when I made it to the Major Leagues. I still look up to that guy and his values — he’s just a great individual. Orlando Palmeiro is another one that took me along when I was a rookie. He sat next to me every time on the airplane. We played cards, talked hitting. I still talk to him today. Those were my baseball mentors.

@therealxAndrew: What does a day look like during the season? Do you have time for friends/family? Are you able to shop for food without being hounded by fans?

@HunterPence9: Fans don’t really hound me. They’re really nice. If a fan runs up to me and just wants an autograph or picture…how could I be upset when someone’s like, “We like the way you play, keep playing the game the right way.” I don’t mind that. I can go anywhere, do anything. It’s just if I have the energy and the time. It’s all about conserving your energy.

Generally I just wake up, I go eat a big breakfast. I don’t really have time to drive to go hang out with my family but sometimes they come over, sometimes they meet me for breakfast. I might play chess, cards, whatever. Watch videos and start getting ready for the game.

@mom2boystx: Besides Buffalo Grille, what’s your favorite type of food?

@HunterPence9: I have a passion for just healthy food. I’m learning to cook from Brian Dopirak this Spring Training. It’s something I haven’t had time to do or someone to teach me. My mom, if she was around, I’ve done it with her a few times. I like fish, I like vegetables, I like colorful salads. Steakhouses would be one of my favorites. I enjoy sushi. Just anything that’s healthy and fresh.

@luckiexstar: If you could be a rock star for a day, what band would you play for and where do you want to perform?

@HunterPence9: If I’m a rock star for one day I definitely want to perform in L.A. If I was going to be a rock band — this is actually a concert I want to go to and haven’t been able to go to — in their prime, Metallica. The song I would play would be “One.” Just to hear the drum solo and the guitar solo going back and forth at the end. That would probably be the most adrenaline I could get on stage, or even in the crowd. So, Metallica for sure.

@lolunix: What music will you be using this year to com
e up to bat?

@HunterPence9: I have not decided yet. I don’t think we’re going to go cheesy just yet. Unless the team needs a rally. Kesha, Fergie, that type thing. At the start of the year it’s probably going to be some rock. Maybe some Godsmack, Slipknot, Korn, Tool. Something to that effect.

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