Hunter Pence wants to lead off for the Giants

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The Giants will go with a new lead-off hitter tomorrow. Since losing Angel Pagan to a strained left hamstring, Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres have shared responsibilities at the top of the batting order. CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly suggests the new lead-off man will be Marco Scutaro, but also mentioned this:

There are few players I’d like less to lead off than Hunter Pence. He ranks 49th out of 64 batters in pitches seen per plate appearance, according to ESPN. Pence himself admitted to being an “aggressive swinger”. A good lead-off hitter is patient and tries to see as many pitches as possible to his teammates have an early idea what the pitcher has and how well it is working on that particular day. Additionally, a good lead-off hitter gets on base frequently, and that isn’t Pence’s forte as his on-base percentage ranks fifth out of eight Giants with enough plate appearances to qualify. It also happens that Pence has arguably been the Giants’ second-best hitter overall behind Buster Posey, making them an obvious combination in the middle of the lineup.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.