More bad injury news for the Phillies.
According to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, catcher Brian Schneider was lifted in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Marlins after straining his left hamstring while running the bases. Dane Sardinha replaced him on the basepaths and will finish out the game behind the plate.
Carlos Ruiz is scheduled to return from his minor league rehab assignment on Friday and the Phillies have an off day Thursday, so the Schneider injury won’t have a major impact. But it does seem likely that the Phillies will add the veteran backstop to their long list of players on the disabled list.
Chase Utley has been out since spring training with patellar tendinitis, Roy Oswalt has been sidelined for the past few weeks with a back issue, Brad Lidge isn’t expecting to return from his rotator cuff injury until mid-June, and Jose Contreras is out with a right flexor pronator strain in his elbow.
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.