There was a time when Hunter Pence was the paragon of baseball health, remember. In 2013 and 2014, he played in all 162 games. Those were the days, alright. Those were the days.
In this modern era of Giants baseball, Pence is not the paragon of baseball health. The Giants placed their right fielder on the 10-day DL with a left hamstring strain. Mac Williamson was called up from Sacramento, and he’s in Monday night’s lineup.
Pence was slumping violently this season, with a .243 average, .289 on-base percentage, and .338 slugging percentage, which is good for a 68 OPS+. While two of his three home runs have come in the month of May, he is still hitting .190/.186/.333 for the month. The OBP being lower than the batting average is probably a good sign that things haven’t been going as well as planned.
Williamson missed the first three weeks of the season with a quad injury, and he’s been in Triple-A since April 22. After a slow start, he’s hitting .326/.404/.543 in May, with two hits in each of his last three games. Overall, he’s hitting .274/.338/.452, which isn’t too dissimilar to what he did for the River Cats last year.
If there’s a silver lining to this cloud, it’s that Williamson will almost certainly get playing time, which will allow the Giants to evaluate him a little bit before searching for a long-term solution in left field. If he were healthy, he probably would have deserved the starting job there this year. As is, it beats getting buried in Sacramento, without a lot of eyes on him. The circumstances sure are crummy, but at least Williamson will get the at-bats in the majors that have eluded him these past couple seasons.
While the hamstring strain wasn’t serious enough for the Giants to put Pence on the DL immediately, there is no timetable for his return yet.