Giants outfielder Hunter Pence has never looked graceful on the baseball field, but we’ve always chalked that up to him just being goofy. There’s actually a legitimate medical reason behind his awkward-looking mechanics, though, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports found out.
Pence, 31, told the FOX broadcasters before Game 1 of the NLCS that he has Scheuermann’s Disease, a spinal disorder that he likely developed as an adolescent.
The condition affects the vertebrae, and the way Pence described it, he has no flexibility in his thoracic spine.
“That’s why he throws the way he does,” Giants head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner said. “He has no rotation in the mid-spine.”
Nevertheless, Pence has consistently rated among the best outfielders in baseball since he broke into the majors in 2007. According to FanGraphs, only five outfielders have been more valuable than Pence (29.2 WAR) since the beginning of the ’07 season: Matt Holliday (42.1), Andrew McCutchen (33.9), Ryan Braun (33.1), Jose Bautista (30.7), and Jayson Werth (29.9).
Pence has reached base in all six of the Giants’ post-season games thus far.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.