SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right fielder Hunter Pence was named this year's winner of the Willie Mac Award, given to the Giants' most inspirational player, during an on-field ceremony prior to tonight's game against the San Diego Padres.
The award is voted on by Giants players, coaches, training staff and fans. Pence has started all 160 games this season and this weekend can become the first Giants player in the San Francisco era to start every regular-season game in a season. Alvin Dark was the last Giant to do so, in 1954.
"It's tough to really quantify how much this means to me in my heart," Pence told the AT&T Park crowd after receiving the award. "My heart has never felt better than when my teammates have put me up in front of you today."
Pence, who began Friday batting .282 with 25 homers and 93 RBIs, will be a free agent after the season, and general manager Brian Sabean said during his end-of-season press conference Friday that the Giants have begun negotiations with Pence for next year.
Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, for whom the award is named, joined a handful of past recipients on the field for the ceremony and also addressed the crowd, saying Pence is one of his favorite players and adding: "I know along with me, all of you wish he's back next year."
Pence thanked several groups including the fans and his teammates, saying during the latter: "Buster (Posey), I know you don't like it when I say I love you -- you think it's soft -- but I actually think it's the strongest thing we've got."
After the presentation, the Giants played a video montage of Pence highlights set to Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy."
-- Matt Kawahara