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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Hunter goes down

Well folks, the "odd-numbered year curse" is already rearing it's ugly head and we're hardly into March. Hunter Pence, one of the catalysts and perhaps the most powerful bat in the Giants' lineup will be sidelined 6-8 weeks after breaking his wrist Thursday.

Pence took a Corey Black (a young Cubs right-hander who's now deeply entrenched in Giants fan's hatred) heater off his left wrist in Thursday's game, a game in which Bruce Bochy DH'd the right fielder just to get him some at-bats, and left immediately. X-rays reveled a non-displaced fracture in the wrist, which could have been worse. Had it been displaced, it could have been a few months before seeing Pence on the field again and may have required surgery to have screws inserted into the bone. Nonetheless, the Giants' power-starved lineup will be plan to be without their 2014 home run leader and top run-scorer through the first month of the regular season, at least. Best case scenario is Pence's rehab goes smoothly but since he's had limited spring activity, he may still require a lengthy rehab assignment. With the timetable set, and assuming Pence heals right along that line, the Giants are likely shooting to have their right fielder back by May 1st. However, if it takes him into mid-late late April just to recover and heal, then assuming he'll need at least two weeks to strengthen/rehab, then it could be mid-May. Since it's Hunter Pence though and not Pablo Sandoval, my bet would be the early end of that timeline and he'll make his season debut April 21st at home vs. the Dodgers!

In the meantime my guess is that, once again, Gregor Blanco will have worked his way into a starting gig taking over in left with Nori Aoki shifting to right where he's more experienced than Blanco. This, however, is precisely why I strongly endorsed bringing in another right-handed outfielder, Johnny Gomes for example, but instead the Giants only added Aoki. They could make a deal to bring in some pop to help with Pence out but with Hunter expected only to miss a little over a month of the regular season, it's not like they'll need a season-long replacement. That being said, it still wouldn't surprise me to see them scour the trade market though for an extra outfielder now, and I expect Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans are working on that very thing as I type this.

Outside of the brutal Pence news, the Giants actually played pretty well Thursday, as they came back late to beat the Cubs to earn their first victory of the spring. A couple of young prospects played big roles in the late comeback. 2013 first-round pick Christian Arroyo stood out at the plate with a 2-2 day and Daniel Carbonell, both of which were talked about in our prospect post last month, hit a big two-run homer in the 7th. As far as the regulars, Brandon Belt reached base twice on a couple of walks and Aoki took a free pass as well, but nothing else was really happening, as has been the case for the most part here early on.

The Giants starting offense has looked a tad dull to start with, which is no big deal, but now with the loss of Pence, the panic over the lack of scoring is going to be even more magnified. One guy who's not really penciled into a 25-man roster spot but has been one of the lone bright spots at the plate in the first week has been Adam Duvall. The 26 year-old has hit safely in all three games and has a big fly. He's an interesting option now to possibly take the roster spot left open by Pence to start the year. He was a guy I was going to mention today as a possible battler for that fifth outfield/final bench spot anyway, but this could really open the door for him now if he can keep up this hot start and hold off Travis Ishikawa.

Also with Pence now out, it reinforces the idea of using Angel Pagan in the third spot in the batting order and leading off with Aoki. Besides reaching base more frequently and being quicker on the base-paths than Pagan, Aoki sees more pitching than the incumbent leadoff man does. That's something Gregor Blanco did well in October last year and although he didn't put up great offensive numbers himself, that helps a lineup and wears down an opposing starter. Pagan, in turn, makes some sense in the third spot as well were he may be able to let out a little more swing and flex more of that power that he does have. Anyway, it's something I'm sure will be discussed all spring long, even more so now that Pence will be out to start the year.

Extras: Now, if the Giants are going to look to add outfield depth, a couple of teams they may want to reach out to, and teams we've mentioned here over the offseason, are the Padres and Red Sox. The Padres could dangle Carlos Quentin or maybe Cameron Maybin, while I still would take Allen Craig off Boston's roster in a second. The top free agent put there I believe is Raul Ibanez (gag), so the trade route would seem most logical. Who knows, acquiring Quentin for Pat Burell-type role and playing him just 4 times a week may keep him on the field and fresh.... Right about now, keeping Michael Morse wouldn't have looked so bad, right?!
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 11:36 PM, Anonymous C.Money said…

    UGHHHHHH!!!! Can't believe the news on Pence, I thought my boy was playing an early April fools trick on me with that text.... Damn Corey Black the new Scott Cousins LOL.

    It's Hunter though so I wouldn't bet against him beating that time table.
    Opening day baby! Watch!!!!


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