Astros manager Brad Mills watched franchise icons Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt get dealt prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline last season and now the second-year skipper has seen the organization say goodbye to beloved fan favorite Hunter Pence.
The 28-year-old Pence, a two-time NL All-Star selection, was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies Friday night in exchange for four prospects, including highly-rated first baseman/outfielder Jonathan Singleton and right-handed starting pitcher Jarred Cosart.
Mills prepared himself for the possibility of Pence being dealt to a contender, yet it became a reality in the fifth inning of Houston’s game against the Brewers on Friday when the standout right fielder was taken out of the lineup once the trade went through.
“We had talks earlier of that moment possibly happening,” Mills said. “We were kind of ready for it. We gave each other a big hug and he said, ‘I love you guys. I love the organization and everything else.’ I said, ‘I felt the same way coming back to you.'”
Pence’s approach and genuine character while representing the Astros on and off the field will always be remembered by Mills.
“I think everybody has a lot of heart for Hunter and everything he has meant to this organization,” Mills said. “He is a special player and I know he’ll do well in Philadelphia. Any time you lose a guy like Hunter, it’s going to take something away from the lineup.”
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