Matt Murton, who went from being a part-timer and journeyman in America to being a star in Japan, has decided to stay with the Hanshin Tigers for another season.
There had been some speculation that Murton might want to give MLB another try at age 32, but instead he’ll get $3.5 million to remain in Japan for 2014 after hitting .314 with an .845 OPS in 143 games this year. Murton is a career .312 hitter in four Japanese seasons and broke Ichiro Suzuki’s single-season hits record in 2010.
In the American big leagues Murton hit .286 with a .788 OPS in 346 games for the Cubs, Rockies, and A’s, but never quite grabbed hold of a full-time job after 2006.
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.