Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News reports that third baseman Pablo Sandoval is back in the Giants’ starting lineup on Tuesday night against the Blue Jays after missing San Francisco’s three-game weekend series in St. Louis because of a foot strain.
Angel Pagan, on the other hand, remains sidelined by a right hamstring strain and will miss his eighth straight game. Gregor Blanco will start in center field in his place and Andres Torres will patrol left.
Sandoval, 26, is batting .288/.328/.434 with eight home runs and 37 RBI in 53 games this season. The Giants enter play Tuesday with a 30-27 record and a two-game deficit behind the division-leading Diamondbacks in the National League West.
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.