Brett Gardner could take batting practice this weekend

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Brett Gardner has experienced a couple of setbacks in his recovery from a strained right elbow, but there’s increased optimism that he could rejoin the Yankees in the near future.

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, Gardner could begin taking batting practice this weekend. The speedy outfielder was cleared to take dry swings earlier this week and was scheduled to hit off a tee and do soft-toss drills for a second straight day today. If he progresses as hoped this weekend, he’ll likely be cleared to begin another minor league rehab assignment.

Gardner still has a few hurdles to cross and given his previous setbacks, the Yankees won’t count on him, but Marchand suggests that a return late next week is possible.

Gardner, 28, was batting .321/.424/.393 with two doubles, three RBI, two stolen bases and an .817 OPS over his first 34 plate appearances before landing on the disabled list in mid April.

The Giants might be ready to part ways with Hunter Pence

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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.