Astros demote Brett Wallace, call up Brandon Laird

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Brett Wallace was the Astros’ Opening Day first baseman, but after going 1-for-24 with 17 strikeouts he’s headed back to Triple-A.

Wallace is already 26 years old and has logged nearly 1,400 plate appearances at Triple-A, so he’s running out of time to stick in the majors. He’s hit .304 with an .860 OPS at Triple-A, but just .243 with a .682 OPS in 239 games in the majors.

To replace Wallace on the roster the Astros called up Brandon Laird, who was claimed off waivers from the Yankees last September. Laird, like Wallace, is a first baseman/third baseman, and the 25-year-old was off to a great start at Triple-A hitting .353 with a .932 OPS in 12 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.