If it's up to him, Pence will stay a Philly

(Photo: Steve Mitchell/US Presswire)

It's usually what players say at this time of the season, but Hunter Pence says that he wants to stay in Philadelphia. For now though, Pence remains a potential piece of trade bait.

Hunter Pence stood inside the clubhouse he's called home for just about a full year and was somewhat stunned to be hearing the questions coming his way.

Did he hear about the latest trade rumors? Would he be disappointed if the Phillies were shopping him before next week's trade deadline?

"Are there rumors? I don't even know," said Pence, who arrived to a four-time reigning division champion from a last-place team exactly 12 months ago when the Phillies acquired him from the Houston Astros.

According to a Foxsports.com report earlier in the day, the Phillies are "eager to move" Pence before the July 31 trade deadline. The move could be made as a way to free up cash to sign free agent-to-be Cole Hamels to a new long-term contract.

With the Phils still in last place in the National League East, a place they've called home for every day in July, they could be in sell mode.

"I want to play here, period," Pence said. "I want to win, this year. I still believe in us, and that's what I'm focused on. I'm not focused on, 'What if something happens in the future?' Because what if I die tomorrow? I'm not guaranteed another breath. So I'm going to go out and play as hard as I can today with what I've got."

Later in the night, Pence delivered in an effort to keep the Phils' slim chances at a late season turnaround alive. After Carlos Ruiz hit a three-run, game-tying double in the eighth inning, Pence hit a go-ahead single to shallow right as the Phils turned a 6-1 deficit into a 7-1 lead.

After back-to-back walk-off wins, the Phils made it three victories in a row featuring a late arriving, rallying offense. It gave manager Charlie Manuel reason to think management should think twice before planting the "For Sale" sign outside Citizens Bank Park.

"I say hit the leather - that means buy. I'm a buying guy," Manuel said. "This shows you we still have life and we got energy and we still got enough patience and fight in us to come back. How consistent can we do it? That's part of the game, too. That's playing it out."

The Phillies have won seven of their last 10 but are 9 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the National League's second wild card.


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