Giants sign Ramon Ortiz to minor-league contract

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Ramon Ortiz has an amazing ability to stick around despite not being an effective pitcher since 2004 and the Giants just announced that they’ve signed the 39-year-old to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Washed up old guys are sort of general manager Brian Sabean’s thing and Ortiz was at least reasonably useful for the Cubs last season, throwing 33 innings with a 4.86 ERA. And that was his best ERA in seven years, during which time he’s logged a total of 529 innings with a 5.47 ERA while earning around $15 million.

How he’s done it I’ll never understand, but it certainly shouldn’t shock anyone if Ortiz somehow ends up back in the majors with the Giants at some point this season.

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.