Jay Bruce out again with inner ear problem

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We have a little more information on what is ailing Reds’ outfielder Jay Bruce.

According to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, Bruce is out of the lineup for the second straight day with what Reds manager Dusty Baker is calling an “inner ear problem.”

 “He is terrible,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Right now Jay is having an inner ear problem. He just woke up with it. I just saw him the afternoon before and he was great, walking his dog and seeing his girl. That’s why as a manager, you have to get here early because you don’t know what can happen overnight. You show up later, and something happens – always.”

The timetable for Bruce’s return is not yet clear. Fred Lewis will make the start in right field later this afternoon against Derek Lowe and the Braves.

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.