UPDATE: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Mauer is more “week-to-week” than he is “day-to-day.” It sure sounds like he could hit the 15-day disabled list.
SATURDAY, 5:34pm: According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Twins catcher Joe Mauer has been scratched from Saturday’s lineup against the Indians with a bruised left heel. Drew Butera will start behind the plate, making his fourth career major league start.
The Twins have also recalled catcher Wilson Ramos from Triple-A Rochester, which might be an indication that Mauer’s injury is rather serious. Not serious in that he will need DL time, but enough so that he could miss the next two or three games.
Mauer, who inked a massive $184 million contract extension this spring to remain in the Twin Cities long-term, has a .345/.406/.500 batting line through 84 at-bats this season, but has hit just one home run and has collected only 13 RBI. By his other-worldly standards — and solely from a power standpoint — it’s been a slow start.
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.