Now a manager, Matt Williams must address his steroid purchases again

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The Nationals invited some controversy by hiring Matt Williams as their new manager on Friday. He hasn’t gotten all that much attention for it, but Williams, who hit 378 homers over 17 big-league seasons with the Giants, Indians and Diamondbacks, was, for at least a brief time, a steroids user.

Williams was outed by the San Francisco Chronicle in Nov. 2007 as having bought $11,600 worth of steroids, human Growth Hormone and making agents from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Clinic in 2002, when he was playing for Arizona. He was later included in the Mitchell Report.

Williams admitted to the purchase, saying that he was advised to try hGH to recover from an ankle injury and that he stopped using it because he didn’t like the effects. He didn’t discuss the other substances he bought.

Which was good enough in 2007, since no one much cared. Williams had retired four years previously and was working as a broadcaster then.

Now that Williams is the leader of a major league club, it’d be for the best if he went into greater detail. Unless he happened to just flush everything else down the toilet, Williams wasn’t merely using hGH to try to aid his healing. All we really know is that 2002 was the only time he was caught cheating. This is a guy who appeared to be making a run at Roger Maris’s single-season home run record with the Giants in 1994 when the strike happened (he had 43 homers in 112 games). Was he enhanced then as well?

Frankly, I suspect that those late-90s/early-aughts Diamondbacks clubhouses were about as steroid-riddled as any in the game’s history. I’m not suggesting Williams starts naming names, but as a franchise leader, he should at least come clean about his own past.

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.