The assumption has been that Grady Sizemore won’t be ready until sometime in mid-April, so it’s not much of a surprise to learn that the Indians have officially ruled him out for Opening Day.
Indians manager Manny Acta made the announcement earlier tonight, saying there’s just “not enough time to get him ready” for the start of the season.
On a more important note, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Sizemore tested his surgically-repaired knee by sliding earlier today. According to the Associated Press, he repeated the drill four times.
Today’s activity was a final hurdle of sorts for Sizemore, who is scheduled to get two at-bats as the designated hitter Sunday against the Diamondbacks. It will be his first taste of live game action since he injured his knee last May.
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.