Joe Mauer is two weeks into what is usually at least a month-long recovery for a strained oblique muscle and there’s no timetable yet for the Twins first baseman’s return to the lineup.
Mauer is eligible to come off the disabled list on July 18, but Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that he’s yet to start baseball activities and continues to have some soreness.
Mauer’s move from catcher to first base got off to a terrible start, but he was actually starting to hit well before suffering the oblique injury. In his last 20 games before going on the disabled list Mauer hit .320 and he’s currently got a 12-game hitting streak on hold.
In his absence Chris Colabello and Chris Parmelee has been sharing time at first base.
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.