Yankees bench Brett Gardner for Marcus Thames against Jon Lester

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Brett Gardner is the Yankees’ starting left fielder, but after playing the opener against right-hander Josh Beckett he’s on the bench tonight against left-hander Jon Lester.
Marcus Thames takes Gardner’s place, which makes a lot of sense if the Yankees are willing to live with the massive defensive downgrade in left field. Thames has a bad glove, swings at everything, strikes out a lot, and has a .243 career batting average, but the one thing he can do really well is hit for power against left-handed pitching.
Thames is a career .256/.329/.516 hitter versus lefties, with 40 homers and 35 doubles in 620 at-bats. He’s probably 150-200 points of OPS better than Gardner against southpaws, which along with moving Curtis Granderson to the bottom of the order gives the Yankees a nice little boost for matchups with tough lefties like Lester.

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.