Escobar's shoulder forces move to bullpen

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One start. Five innings.

That’s how long Kelvim Escobar’s return to the rotation lasted after he
missed 1 1/3 seasons due to shoulder problems. Since the struggled to
bounce back following an encouraging first start Saturday against the
Tigers, the Angels announced that he would be unavailable for the rest
of this week and would transition to the bullpen next week.

“He felt he didn’t have the stamina to go out there and throw the 90 pitches and recover,” manager Mike Scioscia told The Associated Press. “So he’s going to pitch out of the ‘pen for that reason. He feels great up to a certain pitch count.”

Of course, this is nothing new for Escobar, a former Toronto closer
who will be pitching in relief for the first time since 2005. He has
some of the game’s very best stuff, but he’s never been a dominant
force, mostly because injuries have held him back. He’s thrown 200
innings just once during a career that began in 1997. It seemed as
though he really learned how to pitch upon arriving in Anaheim, but
this marks the third time in six seasons with the Angels that he’s
missed a big chunk of time with an arm problem.

In the end, this might actually work out for the Angels. It’s not
like they could really count on Escobar to stay healthy anyway, and now
there’s nothing at all stopping them from going out and getting the
starter they’ve obviously needed since the offseason. If things break
right, then Escobar could be the setup man that Jose Arredondo was
supposed to be this year. He’s probably not going to be available on
back-to-back days anytime soon and odds are that he’ll be good for at
least one more DL stint, but even when his arm seems to be hanging by a
thread, he’s capable of getting tons of swings and misses.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.