Pirates sign Rafael Perez to a minor league deal

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Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune reports that the Pirates have signed lefty reliever Rafael Perez to a minor league deal. He’ll report to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Perez, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012. Last season, he pitched at Double-A for the Red Sox (30 2/3 innings) and at Triple-A for the Twins (four innings), posting a combined 2.60 ERA. This season, he has pitched at Triple-A with the Rangers (3 2/3 innings) and in the Mexican League with Rojos del Águila de Veracruz.

Over seven seasons in the major leagues, Perez has posted a 3.52 ERA in 329 innings.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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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.