Posted on May 15, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The problems continue to pile up for the San Francisco Giants. On the heels of a three-game win streak that took them out of last place in the NL West, the Giants have lost one of their most important players. The club placed right fielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day DL on Monday with a strained left hamstring. Despite his mediocre start to the season, hitting just .243 with a .627 OPS, the loss of Pence is a massive blow to the Giants and potentially one more nail in the coffin of their season.
Pence had played in every game for the Giants this season up until this past Saturday when he sat to rest his ailing hamstring. He was used only as a pinch-hitter on Friday but was completely absent on Sunday. An MRI performed Sunday revealed a mild strain. The Giants have now decided to place him on the DL to give him more time to rest and recover from the injury in hopes that it will lead to a full recovery. San Francisco has called up Mac Williamson to take Pence’s spot on the active roster.
Pence going to the DL marks the sixth time this season the Giants have put one of their core players on the injured list. Buster Posey, Denard Span, and Brandon Crawford have both spent time on the DL this year, while ace Madison Bumgarner and closer Mark Melancon are currently on the DL. The loss of Pence is also a massive blow to an outfield that has struggled to find continuity and produce all season.
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For years, Pence was considered one of baseball’s top iron mans. But in recent years, the 34-year old outfielder has become a frequent visitor to the dreaded DL. Pence was on the DL three times during the 2015 season for three different injuries. Last season, Pence lost nearly two months because of a hamstring strain in his right leg. That injury is a good reason for the Giants to be cautious with Pence this time around and make sure the injury heals properly, even though the injury is in his other leg.
In the meantime, the Giants may have a difficult time filling in for Pence and fielding a competent outfield. Despite missing a few weeks with injury problems of his own, Span has been a steady producer for the Giants in center field this year.
However, the rest of San Francisco’s outfield has been a vacuum of productivity for much of the season. Eduardo Nunez, who has recently started to play left field on a regular basis, Gorkys Hernandez, Michael Morse, and Justin Ruggiano have all struggled to produce, leaving little hope that the Giants can handle the loss of Pence in their outfield, even if it turns out to be a short-term injury.
Despite winning four of their last five games, largely without the services of Pence, the Giants are nine games under .500 and nine games out of first place in the NL West. If San Francisco is going to do anything productive in 2017, the club needs to start making moves to get back to .500. With all the players already on the DL, and now the addition of Pence to that list, the Giants have a near-insurmountable task ahead of them.