I missed this because, really, I had no idea that baseball took place after 11PM Eastern time. But in last night’s Braves-Mariners game, the M’s had a catcher fiasco. Miguel Olivo left early due to cramps in his hamstring and the backup catcher, Chris Gimenez, strained his oblique in the fifth inning.
Gimenez could apparently still catch the ball — he stayed in the game — but when he came up to bat in the 7th inning with two runners on and two outs in a one-run game, he did something strange: he tried to bunt. And he struck out, watching strike three go by. Here was Eric Wedge’s explanation:
“I tell you what, Chris really sucked it up,” Wedge said. “We had to keep him back there because we needed a catcher. In that situation there, we have him try to bunt for a hit. It was either two shots to get a bunt for a hit, otherwise he had to take it like a man and just hope that he walked him.”
Or, in a close game, with runners on, when you’re still in the race for the playoffs, you could, you know, pinch hit for him? And hope that your emergency catcher — which every team has, right? — can handle two innings behind the plate?
So, which was it, Wedge: was this not an emergency, or do you not have an emergency catcher?
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.