Carlos Zambrano is in the best shape of his life

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Carlos Zambrano has lost some weight and has already been in Arizona a week getting ready for the season despite the fact that pitchers and catchers don’t report until Februay 17th.  Lou likes it:

“Carlos was a little heavy last year, there’s no question,” manager  Lou Piniella told fans at the Cubs Convention. “He’s another player (besides  Geovany Soto) we had a nice conversation with toward the end of the year . . . He looks absolutely wonderful, and I think you’ll see a heck of a better performance from him just because of that,” Piniella said.

Zambrano has always been one of those guys who always looks kind of gassed out there, even when he was pitching really well.  I like him — as I’ve written before, he reminds me of a 1960s pitcher in a lot of ways, and 1960s pitchers were awesome — so I hope the loss of a few pounds will help him bounce back.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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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.