Giants will activate Hunter Pence from the disabled list on Saturday

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Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports that the Giants plan to activate outfielder Hunter Pence from the disabled list on Saturday. Pence traveled with the team to Cincinnati as they open up a three-game weekend series with the Reds.

Pence was hit by a pitch and suffered a broken forearm towards the end of spring training, forcing the 32-year-old to go on the disabled list for the first time since 2007. He had played in all 162 games in each of the 2013 and ’14 seasons. Pence batted .277/.332/.445 with 20 home runs, 74 RBI, and 13 stolen bases in 708 plate appearances last year, helping the Giants win their third championship in five years.

Justin Maxwell got most of the playing time in right field in Pence’s absence. He performed reasonably well, hitting .250/.305/.396 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 106 plate appearances. Maxwell will return to the bench upon Pence’s activation, though he could be utilized in a left field platoon with Norichika Aoki.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?