After missing 3 1/2 months with a fractured right fibula, Jeff Niemann exited his start against the Blue Jays on Saturday after just 3 1/3 innings with what was initially described as right arm tightness. It turns out the injury could end his season.
According to Marc Topkin of Tampa Bay Times, Niemann is out indefinitely after an exam by Dr. Koco Eaton today revealed slight inflammation in his right rotator cuff. While he hopes his condition will improve with a couple of days of rest, he’s not sure if he’ll be able to make it back this year.
David Price, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb have been fantastic, so the Rays should be able to get by fine in the rotation, but Niemann could have been asked to make another spot start or two in September. Now that assignment would likely fall to Chris Archer, who is expected to join the club later this week.
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.