Pirates lose outfielder Starling Marte to disabled list

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The Pirates will be without a key piece for at least another 10 days after placing Starling Marte on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a hand contusion.

Andrew Lambo was recalled to replace him on the roster.

Marte was injured last Sunday when he was hit on the left hand by a pitch.  He’d been available to pinch-run since, but the Pirates declined to use him in case the DL stint became necessary. Since he hadn’t made an appearance since the injury, he’ll be eligible to rejoin the team on Sept. 3.

The 24-year-old Marte has been the Pirates’ everyday left fielder and leadoff hitter this season. He’s hitting .282/.343/.443, and he’s third in the NL with 35 steals and tied for seventh with 79 runs scored.

Lambo is seeing his second stint in the majors after going 1-for-9 in four games earlier this month. He’s hit 32 homers in the minors this year, 18 of them coming in Triple-A. He’ll share time with Felix Pie in left until Marte returns.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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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.