Rangers right fielder Hunter Pence was named the American League’s starting designated hitter for the 2019 All-Star Game. But a lingering groin injury will force him to miss the chance to start in the All-Star Game for the first time in his 13-year career. Before Thursday’s Angels-Rangers game, Pence spoke with reporters about why he’s ultimately not disappointed about missing the game.

“[To] have the choice to be disappointed about going to an All-Star Game last year in the offseason when I didn’t even have a job, it’s all perspective,” Pence said. “It’s an amazing opportunity that I got selected. I got hurt on the field in a big league game playing as hard as I can and that happens.”

At age 36, Pence has had one of the best stories in baseball this season. Pence was a National League All-Star reserve in 2009 and 2011 with the Houston Astros, and again in 2014 with the San Francisco Giants. After parting ways with the Giants at the end of last season as a free agent, Pence signed a minor-league contract with the Rangers before earning a spot on the team’s Opening Day lineup.

Not only have the Rangers exceeded the season’s expectations, but Pence has as well. Pence — who reworked his swing during winter ball in the Dominican Republic this offseason — is leading the Rangers in RBI (48) and is second to fellow All-Star and teammate Joey Gallo for the Rangers’ most home runs with 15. 

“I’m going to do everything I can … getting back, getting strong and getting healthy to come back and charge into a second half where we have an opportunity to make at the playoffs and no one expected that,” Pence said. “How could I ever be more happy than I am right now? It’s not possible.”

Through 55 games, Pence is slashing .294/.353/.608 with a .962 OPS and 141 OPS+.

Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts was been named to the team in Pence’s place. The 2019 All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday, July 9, at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Take a look at the game’s full rosters here.

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