When Lou Piniella stepped down from his post as Cubs manager earlier this year, there was an assumption that Triple-A Iowa skipper and Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg would take over to start the 2011 season. Then Mike Quade stepped in, led the Cubbies to a 24-13 down the stretch and was awarded the full-time position last week.
The Cubs asked Sandberg to return to his post at Iowa, but he felt snubbed when they went with Quade and he is now planning to move on after four years as a coach within the organization. This according to ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine.
“There’s no good-bye. He’s a Cub. He’ll be a Cub for life,” Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said Wednesday on “The Afternoon Saloon” on ESPN 1000, confirming the report. “If he would like to explore some options with other teams to pursue some other opportunities that doesn’t really change anything with respect to what he has accomplished for the team or what he means to the team … He’s a Cub forever.”
Quade patched the final holes for his 2011 coaching staff this week with the hiring of Pat Listach as bench coach and Dave Keller as a major league staff assistant. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, bullpen coach Lester Strode, third base coach Ivan DeJesus and first base coach Bob Dernier will return from Piniella’s staff.
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.