MLB announced an eight-game suspension for Rays reliever Joel Peralta, who was ejected from Tuesday night’s game after manager Davey Johnson and the Nationals alerted umpires to pine tar on his glove.
The confiscated glove was then sent to the MLB offices in New York for further examination, all while Johnson and Rays manager Joe Maddon engaged in a very public spat about the unwritten rules of baseball.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Peralta will appeal the suspension, which means he’ll be eligible to pitch in the meantime and may wind up being forced to sit out fewer than eight games when the process is complete.
Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com notes that then-Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly also received an eight-game suspension for having pine tar on his glove back in 2005, so Peralta’s suspension length has precedent.
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.