Scott Rolen returns to Reds after more shoulder problems

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Scott Rolen changed his mind and agreed to go on a minor-league rehab assignment to show the Reds his perpetually injured shoulder was strong enough for a return from the disabled list and apparently homering at Triple-A over the weekend convinced them he’s ready.

Rolen is back from the DL after missing the past five weeks, although how much he’ll play remains unclear. Not only was he hitting just .174 before being shut down, rookie Todd Frazier has thrived filling in at third base with a .278 batting average, seven homers, 10 doubles, and a .914 OPS in 43 games.

It’s possible that manager Dusty Baker could make room in the lineup for both players by using Frazier in the outfield, but at this point in his career it hardly seems worthwhile to alter any plans in the name of getting Rolen into the lineup more often. Since the beginning of last season the 37-year-old has hit just .224 with a .640 OPS in 94 games.

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.