Aroldis Chapman threw live batting practice today for the third time in the past week and reported no problems, so it looks like the Reds left-hander is ready for a minor-league rehab assignment as he comes back from facial fractures following a line drive to the face on March 19.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that Chapman threw 25 pitches, including sliders and changeups, and could begin a rehab assignment as soon as Thursday at Single-A.
Chapman indicated that he’ll probably need 4-5 rehab games before coming off the disabled list, which would put his potential return timetable somewhere around mid-May. At the time of the injury initial estimates suggested he’d be out for 6-8 weeks, so Chapman is right on track and perhaps a bit ahead of schedule.
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.