UPDATE: According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers called off Cliff Lee’s bullpen session after he felt some discomfort in his back while throwing off flat ground.
He’ll play catch again Sunday with the intention of throwing a bullpen session. There’s still a chance he’ll pitch Tuesday, but it doesn’t sound likely, at least according to what Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.
2:57 PM: Cliff Lee skipped a scheduled bullpen session Saturday, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
Lee was able to play catch on flat ground under the supervision of Rangers trainer Jamie Reed, but obviously something wasn’t quite right. The left-hander he received an injection for lower back stiffness earlier this week and admitted Friday that his back has been bothering him for “a couple of weeks.”
Gee, really? Lee posted an outstanding 2.63 ERA through his first six starts as a member of the Rangers, but has an 8.28 ERA over his last five outings and has failed to complete six innings in each of his last three.
According to Sullivan, Lee may try to throw again tomorrow, however Rich Harden will likely replace him if he is unable to start Tuesday.
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.