Notes: Pence creating quite a stir

Notes: Pence creating a stir

HOUSTON -- To steal a line from Jan Brady, sort of -- Hunter, Hunter, Hunter.

Hunter, as in Pence, is everywhere. He's the talk of the town, on radio, on TV, on the Internet and newspapers, and probably in sports bars all over Houston, too.

That's what hitting .355 in less than a month will do for a kid. It's unlikely that Pence will keep up this pace, but after bursting onto the scene with a .571 average during Spring Training and living up to every bit of the hype since his callup on April 27, Pence is receiving mounds of attention as he attempts to settle in to life as a big leaguer.

Manager Phil Garner is pleased with Pence's performance, of course, but he also remains quite guarded when discussing the 24-year-old center fielder. It's not that Garner doesn't think Pence deserves praise. He just wants to keep things in perspective.

"I'm afraid we're going to get in a frenzy here, and the expectations are going to be unattainable," Garner said following Pence's 4-for-4 night Wednesday. "The kid's playing good. Just let him play. We didn't pencil in a certain batting average, we didn't pencil in a certain [number of] home runs, we didn't do this or that.

"We kept saying, he's not the savior of the ballclub. We just wanted him to go out and play. And that's what he's doing."

Despite the attention, Pence appears to be cool and collected, although he admitted the media attention has slightly interrupted his pregame preparations. Still, he's managing to juggle the attention and his responsiblities to the team.

He also doesn't appear to be getting too full of himself.

"It's early," he said. "I still have a lot to prove."

Consistency: Unlike earlier in the season when jugging the lineup was an everyday exercise, Garner has had the luxury lately of knowing who's going to hit where.

Even though he's using different players in right field and third base on a semi-daily basis, where those players hit doesn't change. Whoever plays third base has been hitting second, and Jason Lane and Luke Scott, the right fielders, hit fifth.

The remainder of the regular starters also haven't shifted much.

"Ultimately, I think the team is best when guys know what they're doing," Garner said. "Sometimes change can be good, but ulimately, the club performs when guys have an idea of what they're doing. This is a long-term game. The season is long."

Jennings update: Jason Jennings threw 54 pitches in his first Minor League rehab outing Thursday for Double-A Corpus Christi at Whataburger Field.

Jennings allowed three hits over five shutout frames, walking one and striking out two. Jennings is slated to make one more rehab start Tuesday for Triple-A Round Rock at The Dell Diamond, and if that goes well, he could rejoin the Astros' rotation May 29.

Charitable fun: For the third year in a row, the Astros and Rangers wives have teamed up to raise money for a worthy cause.

The Astros vs. Rangers wives charity softball game for the "Diamond Boot" will take place on Sunday at 11 a.m. CT, prior to the finale between the two clubs. The gates open at 10:45 a.m.

The game will benefit the Spina Bifida Assocation of America and Beaumont Hospital Nerve Rerouting Project, located in Detroit. Fans can purchase a $5 raffle ticket to win a jersey signed by one of the Astros players. Raffle tickets will be available this weekend at Minute Maid Park.

The Charity Softball Game is sponsored by Tiffany & Co., Academy Sports & Outdoors and The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Proton Therapy Center.

Coming up: Interleague Play begins Friday with the first game against in-state rival Texas. The game begins at 7:05 p.m. CT and will feature right-hander Matt Albers (1-2, 5.47 ERA) and Rangers righty Robinson Tejada (3-3, 4.87).

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.