Tag: Justin Maxwell

Hunter Pence

Giants will activate Hunter Pence from the disabled list on Saturday

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Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports that the Giants plan to activate outfielder Hunter Pence from the disabled list on Saturday. Pence traveled with the team to Cincinnati as they open up a three-game weekend series with the Reds.

Pence was hit by a pitch and suffered a broken forearm towards the end of spring training, forcing the 32-year-old to go on the disabled list for the first time since 2007. He had played in all 162 games in each of the 2013 and ’14 seasons. Pence batted .277/.332/.445 with 20 home runs, 74 RBI, and 13 stolen bases in 708 plate appearances last year, helping the Giants win their third championship in five years.

Justin Maxwell got most of the playing time in right field in Pence’s absence. He performed reasonably well, hitting .250/.305/.396 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 106 plate appearances. Maxwell will return to the bench upon Pence’s activation, though he could be utilized in a left field platoon with Norichika Aoki.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

Royals White Sox

Royals 3, White Sox 2: Fisticuffsmanship! After a couple of hit batsmen — Yordano Ventura hitting Jose Abreu followed by Chris Sale hitting Mike Moustakas — you kind of figured everyone was even. Guess not. Adam Eaton hit a comebacker and, as Ventura made the putout, the two of them barked at each other and it all went to hell. Like, into a real fight, the likes of which you rarely see in baseball these days because everyone is rich and happy and no one really wants to get hurt.

Why on Earth anyone is barking at anyone on that play is beyond me. Why the Royals — as we have discussed — want to be known for something as stupid as being “bad boys,” let alone be called something that stupid is beyond me, but I suppose if they don’t mind being thought of that way who the heck are we to stop them?

As it was, Ventura has started four games this year. He left the first two with muscle cramps and the last two due to brain cramps. Maybe you should chill out a bit, my man? Maybe your teammates are getting sick and tired of having to deal with the crap that you and your dumb temper set in motion?

Marlins 9, Phillies 1: Ryne Sandberg after this game: “We’ve got some work to do. It was not a good game for us.” Phillies writers CTRL-C’d that so they can CTRL-V it another 90-95 times this year. I’m just happy that I got my Jeff Francoeur shirt in time for this weekend’s Braves-Phillies series. A series which should come with a warning label or phone numbers for emergency counseling or something.

Yankees 2, Tigers 1: Masahiro Tanaka pitched one-run ball into the seventh and struck out six and, I’ll be damned, all of those orthopedic surgeons in the New York media who were prescribing Tommy John surgery after his first start are suddenly quiet.

Mets 6, Braves 3: Make it 11. Daniel Murphy drove in four, Bartolo Colon showed off his wheels. As a lot of people observed yesterday afternoon when the game was still close, this is the sort of game the Mets of old and bad teams in general somehow find a way to lose. The Mets of 2015 have played a few like this and they find ways to win. It’s a fine line between good and bad in the age of parity, but when you’re on the good side of that line as often as the Mets have been in the early going, you’re probably actually pretty good.

Brewers 4, Reds 2: The eight game losing streak is snapped. Kyle Lohse gave up three hits, walked one and struck out four over seven solid innings. After the game Bryan Price said this:

“We have to come in throwing strikes and challenging opponents,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We’ve taken some leads into the late innings and they’ve gotten away from us so we have to be better.”

Throw strikes? Be better? Jeez, Bryan, are you sure you wanna be telling the press what your strategy is going forward? How does that help the Reds?

Pirates 5, Cubs 4: The Cubs had the matchup they wanted in a tie game with a man on second — lefty Phil Coke against lefty Gregory Polanco — but Polanco came through, hitting the go-ahead RBI single. Polanco finished 3-for-4 with two driven in. Kris Bryant played center field because during that extra week in Triple-A he met a sensei who transformed him from a not-ready-for-the-bigs apprentice to a master of all defense via a series of life lessons and philosophical sayings.

Rockies 2, Padres 1: A 2-1 game in Coors field that took less than three hours? Yup, it’s getaway day. Corey Dickerson homered in the fifth, making it three homers in two games for the guy. The other Rockies run came in the first when Tyson Ross walked a run in with the bases loaded. You really shouldn’t do that.

Giants 3, Dodgers 2: Second walkoff win for the Giants in as many days. This a come-from-behind win after the Dodgers went up 2-0 early. Justin Maxwell served up the game-winning single here in the 10th after failing to come through when the Giants had a chance to tie the game up during an eighth inning would-be rally. The Giants sweep the Dodgers and have won four of five following an eight game losing streak.

Cardinals 4, Nationals 1: Michael Wacha allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, outdueling Max Scherzer. In Wacha’s last three starts he’s drawn Scherzer and then Johnny Cueto twice. Pretty rough duty, but he’s been up to the task. The Cards have won seven of eight.

Angels 2, Athletics 0: Athletics pitchers combined to toss a one-hitter. Not bad! But the one hit was a two-run homer and their offense did diddly squat. That’s bad! Nick Tropeano — who I am pretty sure was one of the minor characters in “Batman: Dark Victory” — tossed six shutout innings and three relievers finished it off.

Blue Jays 7, Orioles 6: A sweep for the Jays. They ran out to a 7-0 lead thanks in part to a Josh Donaldson homer and then held on. Some may want to read a lot into the Orioles’ slow start and this series in particular, but this sort of feels right to me:

Sometimes that just happens. Especially against good-slugging teams in hitters parks.

Rays 2, Red Sox 1: Rene Rivera delivered the game-winning RBI single in the ninth. After the game Rivera said “I think any walkoff is great. You win the game. You enjoy it. It’s a great feeling.” He added “Well, it’s good that you’re fine, and – and I’m fine. I agree with you. It’s great to be fine.”

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

Trevor Bauer

Indians 5, Astros 1: Trevor Bauer needs to get more economical with his pitches out there and walk fewer dudes, but I think the Indians will still take six no-hit innings with 11 strikeouts. The sole hit by the Astros was a ninth inning homer by Jed Lowrie off of Nick Hagadone-killed-our-chances-at-seeing-a-no-hitter.

Mets 6, Nationals 3: Matt Harvey vs. Stephen Strasburg was all Matt Harvey. Six innings four hits, zero runs and nine strikeouts. Three of them were strikeouts of Bryce Harper, all swinging, all on high fastballs. Which, you know, maybe he should start to lay off, bro.

Tigers 7, Twins 1: Hey, the Twins scored a run. It wasn’t earned, but don’t bother them with details. Before that run scored in the seventh, the Tigers established a non-Deadball era record for a shutout streak to begin the season: 24 innings. There was a three and a half hour rain delay but after it was over Brad Ausmus declared it “great weather for baseball.” Which is why you wait three and a half hours to play sometimes, I guess.

Royals 4, White Sox 1: Yet another opening series sweep. This one was full of all kinds of insane defense. We posted about Adam Eaton’s great catch yesterday. Lorenzo Cain ranged around quite a bit out there in center as well:

In any event, Edinson Volquez was thankful for the leather behind him as he tossed eight innings allowing only one run.

Rangers 10, Athletics 1: Four homers from the Rangers including a three-run shot from Shin-Soo Choo and a two-run shot from Mitch Moreland. Adrian Beltre and Rougned Odor added solo home runs. Beltre’s came in the same at bat where he swung so hard and so early at a breaking ball that he fell down to his knees and nearly did a 360 into the dirt. Next curve ball he saw he went down to his knees and jacked it over the fence in left-center. Watch:

In other news, Beltre is pretty amazing to watch and stories like these will be told by fans who watched him each January when the writers, inexplicably, fail to give him any Hall of Fame love.

Blue Jays 6, Yankees 3: Daniel Norris, who as everyone knows by now, lives in a van down by the river, can also pitch a little. Not a shutdown effort, but three runs while pitching into the sixth and striking out five is a fine effort after your offense dropped five on CC Sabathia. A-Rod hits his first dinger since 2013. Pathetically, of course, he does so in a losing effort, clearly because he wanted to show up his teammates. God that guy is the absolute worst.

Red Sox 6, Phillies 2: Xander Bogaerts had three hits and three RBI, all of those coming on a bases loaded triple. Best part of this game, however, were the retro caps the Phillies wore. 1915 models:

source: AP


Giants 1, Padres 0: No offense and four hours of play is the sort of thing that makes Rob Manfred wake up in a cold sweat, I’d imagine. Oh well, it happens. And it ends when someone like Justin Maxwell hits a pinch-hit RBI single with two outs in the 12th inning. Or maybe him specifically as opposed to someone merely like him. The Giants only had six hits in the game and the game-winning “rally” happened thanks to an error which allowed Brandon Crawford reach second, an intentional walk and then the Maxwell hit. San Diego stranded six runners at third base, ten overall. Feel the excitement.

Reds 3, Pirates 2: Cincy sweeps the Buccos. Joey Votto hit a two-run shot and started off the opening series of the year 5 for 14 with four driven in. The game ended on a walkoff error, thanks to Gregory Polanco muffing a liner to right off the bat of Marlon Byrd with two men on.

Hunter Pence has cast removed from fractured forearm

Hunter Pence Getty

Hunter Pence suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left forearm when he was hit by a pitch in early March and will likely miss all of April, but Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com reports that he had his cast removed yesterday.

While this represents progress, Pence is still about 10-14 days away from swinging a bat. The original timeline called for him to miss 6-8 weeks, but how he progresses in the coming days will determine whether he’ll be able to return in that window.

Gregor Blanco and Justin Maxwell should see an uptick in playing time during Pence’s absence, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy is also juggling his lineup. Nori Aoki is the new leadoff man while Angel Pagan is expected to bat third against righties and fifth against lefties.

2015 Preview: San Francisco Giants

Madison Bumgarner ,Buster Posey

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

The Big Question: Will they do it again?

The Giants came roaring out of the gate last season and looked like one of the best teams in the majors early on, but they stumbled through the middle of the year before playing better in August and September (and getting some help from the collapsing Brewers) to secure a Wild Card spot with 88 wins. Of course, we all know what happened after that. They beat the Pirates in the Wild Card game before upsetting the Nationals in the NLDS and the Cardinals in the NLCS. On the strength of one of the best individual postseason performances of all-time from Madison Bumgarner, the Giants beat the Royals for their third World Series title in the past five years.

“Will they do it again?” is the operative question for any defending World Series champion. The Giants have looked like a mess in spring training, but I’m not going to dismiss them outright because 2015 is an odd-numbered year. It’s cute to joke about it, but there’s no such thing as an odd-year jinx because jinxes aren’t real. We’re all adults here. We can admit it, right? However, I will say that the path back to October has its share of challenges.

After fan favorite Pablo Sandoval signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox, many wondered if the Giants would use the cost savings to make a big splash in free agency. It didn’t happen. They re-signed Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong, and Sergio Romo while adding Nori Aoki to their outfield, but that was about it. Chase Headley was briefly mentioned as a possible alternative to Sandoval, but the Giants ultimately acquired Casey McGehee from the Marlins. Not the most exciting offseason, but Brian Sabean has a knack for keeping the band together and winning the offseason isn’t everything.

I can spend a lot time talking about the greatness of Bumgarner and Buster Posey here — and man, are they are great — but what the Giants get from some key rebound candidates will likely tell the tale about where this team goes. Matt Cain didn’t pitch after July 9 last season due to an elbow injury which eventually required surgery. He also had ankle surgery in September. The 30-year-old owns a 4.06 ERA over his last 45 starts dating back to the start of 2013? Can he revert to his old form? Angel Pagan was a key to the team’s World Series run in 2012, but he has been limited to just 167 games over the past two seasons and is coming off back surgery. He’s currently shut down with more back discomfort. Can the Giants count on him at this point? Brandon Belt might be a better bet than those first two. The 26-year-old had some tough luck on the injury front last year, as a fractured thumb and concussion issues limited him to just 61 games, but he has looked great this spring and should produce if healthy. His best baseball is likely still ahead of him. The Giants don’t have a lot of pop, so it would be helpful if 2015 is that year.

What else is going on?

  • The rotation has a bunch of questions even beyond Cain. The workload for Bumgarner last year (270 innings between the regular season and playoffs) can’t be ignored altogether. Tim Hudson is 39 and is coming off surgery in January to remove bone spurs from his right ankle. Peavy has avoided arm problems for the past three years and should benefit with a full year in a pitcher-friendly ballpark in the NL, but he’s going into his age-34 season and has a major injury in his past. Tim Lincecum is getting another shot in the starting rotation despite a 4.76 ERA (73 ERA+) over the past three seasons.
  • If things don’t work out with Lincecum (and it’s hard to believe it will, as fun as a sudden revival would be), Yusmeiro Petit is someone to keep an eye on. With his lights-out curveball, the 30-year-old compiled a 3.69 ERA with an excellent 133/22 K/BB ratio in 117 innings across 12 starts and 27 relief appearances last season. He’ll likely begin 2015 in Bruce Bochy’s consistently-excellent bullpen along with the likes of Vogelsong, Jean Machi, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Romo, and Santiago Casilla, but he deserves a long look in that rotation. I’m guessing he’ll get it one way or the other.
  • Hunter Pence has been one of the game’s most durable players since entering the league, but he suffered a freak injury earlier this month when he was hit by a pitch and suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left forearm. He’s likely to miss most or all of April. We should see a lot of Gregor Blanco in the meantime and potentially guys like Travis Ishikawa, Justin Maxwell, and Juan Perez too, especially if Pagan’s back keeps acting up. It’s only a month, but Pence’s production will be missed in this lineup.
  • Hey, remember when the Giants had Dan Uggla play a handful of games at second base last season? That was fun. Fortunately, rookie Joe Panik eventually emerged and proved to be a solid contributor down the stretch and had some big moments during the postseason. What does the 24-year-old have in store for his first full season in the majors? There’s still some question about how much he’ll hit, but between him and Brandon Crawford, it looks like the Giants might not have to worry about their middle infield for a while.

Prediction: There are definitely ways I can see this working out, but I have too many doubts about the rotation and I don’t think there’s enough power in this lineup. It’s going to be close with the Padres and the numerous other teams in the Wild Card race, but I’m going with…Third place, NL West.