San Francisco Giants: Hunter Pence is Raking (in Triple-A)
Hunter Pence hit the third home run of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento Wednesday night, a clear sign that his swing is as healthy as ever. But the San Francisco Giants medical folks aren’t ready to say the same for his hamstring, and so no thumbs up yet for Pence’s return to the Big Club.
How exactly can Pence be ripping home runs at Triple-A but not be ready for Major League action? Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters on Wednesday that Pence’s legs aren’t ready for full speed. If he were back with the Giants, it’s likely that any sense of self-preservation would vanish and Pence would go full speed at all times. In minor league action, Pence is likely more cognizant of not going all out while running and moving in other ways.
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Even if Pence could control his impulse to move full speed at the Big League level, the Giants probably wouldn’t want to risk compromising its defense by such limitations. And since it’s the National League, Pence can’t be used as a designated hitter for a few days while his hamstring finishes healing.
So, Pence remains in Sacramento for now, destroying Triple-A pitching that, despite maybe being hurled toward the plate at similar speeds to what he sees in the Majors, isn’t much more than batting practice for him at this point. During his rehab stint, he’s 9-for-20 with five extra-base hits and a 1.476 OPS—despite having not drawn an OBP-boosting walk.
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The good thing is that his return appears imminent, and thus the Giants’ struggling offense will get a boost as strong as any trade could provide. Of course, it would be nice to get Pence back AND trade for another big bat, but that’s a different for a different time (like, this weekend).