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Hunter Pence signs with the Giants


UPDATE: Jon Heyman reports that the deal between Pence and the Giants is done.

10:55 AM: I am not a scoop guy by any stretch of the imagination. My habit of never leaving my house and my existential dread of talking on the phone with people prevents that from ever really being my gig. I’ll leave that to the Jeff Passans and Ken Rosenthals of the world.

Still, I’ve gotten a couple of scoops over the years. A random contract extension here. A random signing there. If you hang around baseball and baseball people long enough stuff falls into your lap.

Some of that stuff is more random than other stuff, of course. Like, one of my more notable scoops was when the Braves signed A.J. Pierzynski. Know how I learned about that one? Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was in line at a Honeybaked Ham Company, picking up his Christmas ham, and was talking about it too loudly on the phone. A reader’s dad was behind him in line, told the reader and the reader and sent me a message about it. Viva journalism.

We have another one of those today. [Super serious voice]: NBC SPORTS HAS LEARNED that free agent outfielder Hunter Pence is in agreement with the Giants on a contract. He’s on his way up to San Francisco as we speak to take a physical. Pence, NBC SPORTS HAS LEARNED, turned down offers from the Padres and Astros to sign with the Giants.

Most journalists will never tell you their sources, but I’ll let you in on mine: some random guy in the airport in San Diego, where a few minutes ago he overheard Pence, who was getting ready to board a flight to San Francisco, talking about all of this quite loudly on his cell phone. I’m not gonna say that’s Woodward and Bernstein stuff, but I feel like it’s pretty solid as far as these things go. If it’s not I promise to write a 2,000-word essay about how getting it right is better than passing along hilarious crap from dudes who talk too loud on their cell phones in public spaces. I won’t believe that necessarily, but I’ll write it.

Anyway: Pence hit a surprising .297/.358/.552 in about a half season’s worth of work for the Rangers last year, and even made the American League All-Star team, but had his season cut short with back issues. It’s hard to expect a repeat of that or even a full season from him given that he has managed to play in more than 110 games just once dating back to 2015, but the Giants are in rebuilding mode, he’s well-liked from all of his years in the Bay Area, and this is no doubt going to be a low-leverage signing for the club.

Anyway: keep your voices down, folks. You never know who might be listening. I got spies everywhere, apparently.

Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.