Hunter Pence plays with River Cats, fans excited
Two new patients checked in over the weekend at the Raley Field Recuperation Ward, an adjunct of the San Francisco Giants’ medical care system.
One of them feels as if he needs more time to heal, and what better place for right fielder Hunter Pence to nurse his damaged right hamstring than in the warm Sacramento Valley air? Or in the dry heat east of the Sierra, where Pence and the nursing staff of the Triple-A River Cats will spend most of this week. Cold nights like the summer ones in San Francisco can be bad for hamstrings and other movable body parts. Best to get them fixed before you go high speed.
The other admittee, shortstop Ehire Adrianza, looks as if he’s healthy enough for the majors right now – if not with the Giants, then with some other club. Home Run Adrianza, as of Sunday morning, had six of them in 38 official Recovery League at-bats in Sacramento and San Jose. By rule, the Giants can hide him in rehab for only about another week. Coincidentally, Adrianza’s scheduled return date of Aug. 1 overlaps baseball’s trading deadline. Do the Giants still need to make a deal for a relief pitcher? If they do, they’ve got a good-hit, good-glove shortstop to dangle.
The journeys of Pence and Adrianza contribute to these interesting times for the Giants. The team is still right up there with a winning percentage that’s among the best in the majors. Yet the Giants are still capable of losing seven of eight, as they have demonstrated coming out of the All-Star break.
There’s going to be times where it doesn’t quite go your way, and times it does. I look forward to getting up there and trying to influence them and encourage them and let them know that everything is going to be all right.
With Pence out, replacement right fielder Mac Wlliamson broke up what would now be an eight-game losing streak Saturday. He hit a tying home run and pounded a ground ball up the middle for the winning run. He also fought off a fan to make a catch along the rail down the right-field line at Yankee Stadium. It used to be a player could get hurt doing something like that in the South Bronx.
Williamson looks more comfortable just about every time he stands in at the plate, and he came up with two more hits in Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Yankees. Something’s going to have to give when Pence gets better and reestablishes his residency in right.
Just don’t look for Mac to return to Sac.
“He’s going to be a big part of helping us, when I return,” Pence told the Sacramento media Saturday night. “He’s an incredible outfielder, a spectacular talent. We need him. It’s good for him to get playing time, and also (Jarrett) Parker. These kids are extremely good, and they’re going to help us, and they’re going to make a difference.”
As for his hamstring, which became fully detached from the bone June 1 in Atlanta, Pence said he’s “still got a little ways to be feeling normal.” It looks as if he can move around OK, but it sounds as if he is experiencing some grumpiness in the back of his right thigh.
“We’re working through some stuff,” Pence acknowledged.
Sunday’s loss killed the momentum generated by Saturday’s defeat of the Yankees. Maybe the Giants can get it going again courtesy of the Cincinnati Reds, who bring one of baseball’s worst records into AT&T Park for a three-game series that begins Monday night.
In the Department of the Infield, the recovery of Adrianza appears to be complete. He broke his left foot when he fouled a ball off it on April 14 in Denver. Doctors prescribed 60 days on the disabled list. A model patient, Adrianza is now healthy – and hitting the ball out of the park at nearly twice the clip that Babe Ruth did over his career, and without the benefit of any of those cheapies to right like the Bambino and other left-handed hitters have enjoyed in the assorted Yankee Stadiums over the decades.
They got to do something, but I don’t worry about that. The only thing I can control is playing. Play the game. The decisions, I can’t control them.
Adrianza put on 14 pounds of muscle over the offseason. He said he’s feeling the added strength mostly in his legs. He showed it Saturday night at Raley Field when he lined the first pitch from the El Paso Chihuahuas’ left-handed starter, Frank Garces, over the left-field fence for a home run. He added two hits, and he nearly made a spectacular leaping catch on a line drive at shortstop.
His regained health creates something of a conundrum for the Giants. They’ve already got a chorus line of infield reserves from Sacramento in San Francisco. Guys like Ramiro Pena, Conor Gillaspie and Grant Green all have contributed to victory surges in June and July.
Who goes down if Adrianza goes up? And what about when the starters at second and third, Joe Panik and Matt Duffy, get healthy?
These are not Adrianza’s problems.
“They got to do something, but I don’t worry about that,” Adrianza said. “The only thing I can control is playing. Play the game. The decisions, I can’t control them.”
Recovering in Sacramento, Pence looks at the ups and downs of the Giants’ summer as part of the natural order of things. He sees the ebb and flow of a long season for the spots in time that they are. Ultimately, talent and professionalism and resiliency will decide everything.
Seven losses in eight games? No problem.
“These things happen,” Pence said. “There’s going to be times where it doesn’t quite go your way, and times it does. I look forward to getting up there and trying to influence them and encourage them and let them know that everything is going to be all right.”