AT&T PARK — Two days after being activated, San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is in the starting lineup in the series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Serving as the fourth outfielder since his return, Pence is giving Mac Williamson the day off, after he went 1-for-8 against the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend.
“I think his bat’s been alright. Had a huge hit there in Chicago, had a decent series there in Colorado with the doubles, and had a hit yesterday, lined out to second,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
After missing a month following a concussion in late April, Williamson is hitting .226 in his first nine games back. Pence, who missed 42 games with a thumb injury, worked with Williamson’s swing coach during his time off, and re-engineered the swing he’s had for his entire 12-year Major League career. He made a pinch hitting performance on Sunday, and flied out to center in the eighth.
“We just want to start getting Pence and [Austin] Jackson in there, occasionally, to keep them going,” Bochy said. “This is a workable situation with this outfield, and occasionally, guys are going to get some time, but as always, your play dictates how much you play. The bar was set so high when Mac came up that a lot of people thought that he’s just going to keep hitting home runs. Those things aren’t that easy. I’m looking more at the consistent contact, and I think that’s been alright.”
Madison Bumgarner (finger) will make his first start of the season on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, giving the rotation a much-needed boost. Johnny Cueto, Bochy said, is not far behind.
“He’s probably going to be back within a month, so that’s going to do a lot for the team, it really is,” Bochy said. “It’s going to give you even a stronger rotation, obviously, you start with that, but also, the presence of these players.”
Cueto (elbow) threw out to 120 feet this weekend, and even got on the mound for some informal work.
“He’s getting on the mound and doing some throwing, but a full-fledged bullpen is pretty close,” Bochy said.
Dereck Rodriguez, son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, will make his next start in the rotation, Bochy said. The younger Rodriguez came out a winner on Sunday, and would pitch on Friday in Washington, D.C., against the Nationals. His next turn would come when the Giants head to his hometown, Miami.
Jeff Samardzija (right shoulder tightness) is “just a few days” away from a bullpen, and played catch on Monday.
Bochy on Joe Panik’s hot start since returning (6-for-13, 4 runs, 2 RBIS): “He’s been huge for us. As you can tell, with this offense, with him getting on base. That one game, he scored the two runs, and we won 2-0. He’s got a good eye at the plate, he’s a clutch hitter, got the big hit yesterday to put us on top. It’s nice to have him back, and we were holding ground there, but let’s face it and be hones: Joe’s our second baseman. We get our best production when he’s out there.”
Bochy on the Baltimore Orioles claiming D.J. Snelton a day after he was designated for assignment: “We hated to lose him. We were in a box, there, though, and we had to get Rodriguez on this roster, and he won a game for us yesterday, helped us in Colorado. Unfortunately, your hand gets forced sometimes, and you lose the player you don’t want to lose, but I wish him the best. He was a great guy to have in spring training. It was a lot of fun. He was a very popular guy, because he had a great way about him, so we’ll miss him. Wish him the best.”