CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly reports that Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval came up lame running out a grounder in the eighth inning of a Venezuelan Winter League game last night. Baggarly writes that it appears to be a “minor” injury, fortunately. He is back in the lineup tonight.
A recent report indicated that Sandoval has lost over 40 pounds this off-season as he enters his final season before free agency. Staying on the field had been an issue for Sandoval in previous years.
Sandoval’s injury was a footnote in what was an interesting game between Navegantes de Magallanes and Caribes de Anzoategui. Carlos Zambrano was part of a benches-clearing brawl and reportedly threw a few haymakers.
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.