Jason Lane spent seven seasons as a hitter. Not a terrible one, either. He posted an .815 OPS, hit 26 homers, and had 78 RBI in 145 games for a pennant winner in 2005. But after that he crashed hard and was done as a big league bat.
He reinvented himself as a pitcher in the Padres organization and was called up in June. Today he got his first start at age 37. And it wasn’t half bad: six innings pitched, six hits, one earned run, two strikeouts and a couple of walks. He also went 1 for 2 at the plate. He didn’t get the win, however, as (a) he was backed by the San Diego Padres’ offense; and (b) Ervin Santana tossed eight shutout innings while striking out 11.
But regardless of what happened with the decision, give it the heck up for Jason Lane. A guy who had every reason to pack it in six or seven years ago but didn’t. A guy who started from scratch and then scratched his way back to the bigs. That’s some serious moxie. And quite a story.
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.