Hunter Pence, still in transit, was not in the Giants’ lineup Tuesday. Nor was Shane Victorino, similarly dealt that morning by the Philadelphia Phillies, starting for the Dodgers.
But each left Philadelphia representing the final trade-deadline moves made by the teams that entered Tuesday virtually tied atop the National League West. In the Giants’ case, that meant both adding a powerful bat to the middle of their order and, to an extent, keeping up with the activity of the Dodgers.
The Giants acquired two-time All-Star outfielder Pence and cash from the Phillies on Tuesday for outfielder Nate Schierholtz, minor league catcher Tommy Joseph and minor league right-hander Seth Rosin.
The move came shortly after the Dodgers announced they had acquired Victorino for reliever Josh Lindblom, minor league pitcher Ethan Martin and a player to be named or cash. In the past week, the Dodgers also dealt for third baseman Hanley Ramirez and relief pitcher Brandon League and swept the Giants in a three-game series at AT&T Park.
General manager Brian Sabean, on a conference call, told Bay Area media: “In some ways it is a reaction, not only having played the Dodgers and getting swept, but knowing they were going to be extremely active and not wanting them to outdistance you because of a personnel move you didn’t pursue or try to finalize in the end.”
Pence will be the Giants’ everyday right fielder and start out hitting fifth in the order, manager Bruce Bochy said. His exact placement could shift when Pablo Sandoval, who is on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, returns.
“It gives us another bat in the heart of the order, something we need,” Bochy said. “They’ve done a great job with getting us some help there, somebody who has experience hitting in the three, four and five holes.”
The 29-year-old Pence, who is under team control for next season, hit .271 with 17 home runs and 59 RBIs for the Phillies this season. He has also hit .329 with five home runs and 10 RBIs in 20 career games at AT&T Park, where the Giants have not hit for much power this year.
Though Pence had not arrived by the first pitch Tuesday, a locker had been designated for him in the Giants’ clubhouse, and he was generating optimism.
Buster Posey said he views Pence as “a guy that’s going to help us keep the line moving offensively.” Ryan Theriot said of the move, “From a confidence standpoint, I think it helps everybody.”
How much of that comes from Pence arriving amid a flurry of activity by the Dodgers?
“There’s no doubt about the fact that the Dodgers have really done some things to make their team better,” Theriot said. “I mean, you would like to think that we were in first place for a reason, that reason being that we’ve got a good ballclub and we play well together, and we do things right to win ballgames and we’ve done that all year long.”
Still, Theriot said, an acquisition like that of Pence can bring a message with it.
“From a confidence standpoint, in this clubhouse it makes you feel like, hey, we’re going for this thing,” Theriot said. “And it’s a good feeling to know that everybody’s kind of backing you, as far as an ownership standpoint, Sabes.”
It required the Giants parting with Schierholtz, the Bay Area product who had spent his entire career in the Giants’ organization and was hitting .257 with five homers and 17 RBIs this year, and with Joseph, their second-round draft pick in 2009.
Joseph was rated the Giants’ top catching prospect by Baseball America before this season. The next highest-ranked catcher by the publication was Andrew Susac, the former Jesuit High School standout drafted in the second round last year.