Veteran reliever Luis Ayala opted out of his minor-league contract with the Orioles last week and became a free agent because they wouldn’t call him up to the majors, and now Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports that the 36-year-old right-hander will pitch in the Mexican League.
Ayala is from Mexico, so it’s possible that he had some other Triple-A offers and simply decided to head home rather than keep grinding away in the International or Pacific Coast Leagues.
Ayala looked washed up 4-5 years ago, but then he posted a 2.58 ERA in 164 innings from 2011-2013. Yet despite that good work no teams ever seemed to really trust him as a bullpen option, so he bounced around and now couldn’t get back to the big leagues.
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.