Pence has grown comfortable with No. 2 role

Pence has grown comfortable with No. 2 role

ST. LOUIS -- Sounding mildly surprised by himself, Hunter Pence acknowledged that he has settled nicely into the No. 2 spot in the Giants' batting order, a position he wasn't expected to occupy before the season began.

After leading San Francisco with 27 homers and 99 RBIs last year, Pence appeared destined to hit in the middle of the order this season. But the back injury that sidelined second baseman Marco Scutaro, the team's projected No. 2 hitter, created a void behind leadoff hitter Angel Pagan. After some experimenting, manager Bruce Bochy realized that Pence was the best fit for the role. Saturday marked Pence's 40th game in a row in the second spot.

Pence hinted that he initially felt slightly uncomfortable batting second.

"I didn't really mean for myself to adjust to it," he said. "But I definitely have."

Pence, who hit a three-run home run later, demonstrated his adaptation in Friday night's first inning with a fly ball to right field that advanced Pagan, who doubled to open the Giants' 9-4 win over the Cardinals.

"Even if I were hitting lower in the lineup I'd still be proud of that, but it wouldn't be my main goal," Pence said.

As for coordinating his hitting approach with Pagan's stolen-base attempts, Pence said, "I'm working on that. You have to know the pitch he can [run] on. It's a work in progress."

Asked if he had discussed this subject with Pagan, Pence replied, "Well, he talked to me. It's a big part of his game, so I have to be cognizant of that."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.