Starlin Castro hasn’t played in a Cactus League game since March 2 due to a strained right hamstring, but he’s finally ready to return to action. Sort of.
According to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com, Castro is expected to take several at-bats today in a minor league game. They might keep him on the minor league side for now to protect themselves against the possibility of a setback, enabling them to backdate a potential stint on the disabled list, but he expects to be ready for Opening Day.
Castro is coming off a disappointing season in which he hit just .245/.284/.347 with 10 home runs and 44 RBI in 161 games. It’s easy to forget that he’s only entering his age-24 season, so while he hasn’t progressed as hoped, he’s far from a lost cause at this point in his career.
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.