Joey Votto will bat second for the Reds this afternoon

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Interesting lineup note for the Reds, as first baseman Joey Votto will bat second this afternoon against Alex Cobb and the Rays.

This will be the first time that Votto has batted second since August 8, 2008. For a team that used Zack Cozart out of the No. 2 spot for long stretches last year, it’s an experiment that is long overdue.

While conventional wisdom has said that your team’s best hitter should bat third, studies have shown that it’s actually more beneficial to have them bat second, as it assures them more plate appearances over the course of a season. Sounds pretty logical, right? It also increases the chance that your best hitter won’t be standing in the on-deck circle to end a ballgame.

Votto has led the National League in on-base percentage and walks for three straight years, so basically, the Reds should try to get him to the plate as often as possible. Moving up one spot in the order might not have a major impact, but the potential benefits are obvious enough to at least give it a try for a while. Kudos to Bryan Price for doing something that Dusty Baker wouldn’t.

The Giants might be ready to part ways with Hunter Pence

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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.