Evan Longoria’s bruised right hand has not healed as quickly as hoped and Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports that he “won’t join the lineup anytime soon.”
Longoria had hoped to play today, but swelling in his hand kept him from getting through a batting practice session yesterday and now the Rays third baseman isn’t sure when he’ll see game action again:
It’s slowly going in the right direction. It’s moving along. I guess some places just don’t drain out as well as others. If it was my shin, it would be contused, there will still be a contusion but I would be able to play. It’s just that hands and feet are a little bit different.
Longoria also noted that the injury occurring so early in spring training allows him to be cautious coming back and in the meantime he’s able to get reps in defensively.
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.