Posted on July 30, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The San Francisco Giants added an impact hitter to their lineup on Saturday, and they did so without having to make a trade. The Giants have activated outfielder Hunter Pence from the DL after he missed nearly two months of the season with a hamstring injury. To make room for Pence, the Giants designated Ramiro Pena for assignment. Pena became expendable when the team traded for Eduardo Nunez earlier this week.
Pence required surgery to repair the tear in his hamstring, which is why he’s been absent for nearly two months. He says his leg felt increasingly better during a seven-game stint at triple-A over the past week. During that minor league rehab assignment, Pence hit .417 with three home runs. He’s now anxious to get back to the Giants and help a team that will undoubtedly welcome his presence with open arms. “I play the game with a lot of emotion and a lot of energy,” he said Friday. “Hopefully I can pour much of that vibe out on the field and give them a little boost, so I intend to come ready to help.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy echoed that sentiment. “He’s got so much energy,” Bochy said. “It’s going to give these guys a lift. Of course, Bochy is probably a little more excited about what Pence brings to the club offensively. Over the first 50 games of the season before his injury, Pence was hitting .298 with seven home runs, 11 doubles, and 36 RBIs. He was in the midst of his best season since coming to San Francisco in 2012, and based on his numbers during his minor league rehab, Pence is poised to pick up where he left off.
With Pence back from the DL, Joe Panik returning from the DL earlier this week, and Matt Duffy expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment within the next few days, the Giants are close to full health, at least with regard to position players. The addition of Nunez earlier in the week also gives San Francisco more depth and versatility, not to mention speed, something Bochy is excited about. “We’re not a power-hitting club, this gives us another way to hopefully put some runs across the board,” Bochy said. “Speed makes it a little easier to score runs when you’re not hitting the ball out of the ball park.”
The Giants are just 2-11 since the all-star break and enter Saturday nursing a one game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers atop the NL West. The Dodgers hold a two game lead atop the wild card standings, so the Giants wouldn’t be out of a playoff spot if they slip below their rivals from southern California. However, San Francisco is desperate to snap out of its funk before things get that bad, and Pence returning to the lineup may be just what the Giants need right now with the stretch run approaching.