Rich Harden impresses in first start of latest rehab assignment

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Placed on the disabled list last week with shoulder tendinitis, Rich Harden made his first rehab start yesterday at Triple-A and racked up 10 strikeouts in six innings. He allowed just an unearned run on three hits and three walks.
For now Derek Holland has taken his spot in the Rangers’ rotation, but both are scheduled to pitch again on Monday and another impressive outing from Harden or another clunker from Holland could lead to the Rangers making the switch.
Signed to a one-year, $6.5 million deal with an $11 million mutual option for next season, Harden has been inconsistent and injured while going 4-4 with a 5.45 ERA in 15 starts for the Rangers. He managed consecutive Quality Starts just once, which is why the playoff-bound Rangers likely aren’t in a rush to get him back in the rotation based on one good night at Triple-A.

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.