It’s a couple of days old, but this article about the sea change in clubhouse food (out: hot dogs, burgers, pizza and candy; in: lean meats and vegetables and stuff) is pretty interesting reading. The two most interesting things about it:
(1) that in an age where athletes are going to great lengths to monitor their health and optimize their performance, junk food in the clubhouse still remains, in large part, a given; and
(2) that being “the son of Barry Zito’s chiropractor” can get you a job cooking for the Giants. At this point one would think that any connection to Barry Zito would be a detriment, as opposed to an advantage, in trying to get the Giants to like you. I mean really, haven’t they already done him enough favors?
Unless . . . nah. Brian Sabean isn’t smart enough to pull off the old “your son gets a job in exchange for there being an ‘unfortunate complication’ during Zito’s next spinal adjustment” trick.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.