UPDATE (Saturday): Pence will miss at least two months after undergoing to repair a completely torn hamstring, according to Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com. San Francisco is expected to explore all internal and external options to replace Pence, with Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur already coming up as a potential trade candidate
ORIGINAL (Thursday): San Francisco Giants outfielder, and the most interesting man in baseball, Hunter Pence has been placed on the 15 day disabled list with what’s being described as a severe sprain of his hamstring that he suffered last night while running to first base. Manager Bruce Boche told reporters that, according to an MRI, “he did a pretty good job on it. That’s a shame.” There’s no timeline on his return, but he’s likely out for a long time.
Certainly, not having their right fielder is going to hurt the Giants. Pence was hitting .298/.375/.486 with seven homers in 208 plate appearances. But sitting at 33-22 and challenging for the second best record in the National League, the club does not need to panic. They have a four and a half game cushion over the Dodgers right now.
For the moment, Mac Williamson has been recalled from Sacramento to take Pence’s place. Williamson is a former third round pick from 2012, but is not really a prospect, but has hit .287/.316/.503 at triple-A this year, with six homers in 152 plate appearances. He has only walked seven times, while striking out 34. He has good power, and is a capable defender, but has no ability to recognize breaking stuff. He could potentially be paired with Jarrett Parker until Angel Pagan comes off the disabled list.
There is good news on that front, as Pagan is probably due back from his own hamstring strain next week. Once that happens, the Giants have one of the more capable and consistently underrated fourth outfielders in the game in Gregor Blanco, who can take over for Pence on a full time basis without a massive drop off until he returns.
If Pence’s injury does look like it’s going to require surgery, the Giants could look at pursuing a corner outfielder, as they have so often in the past, to shore up their situation. Colby Rasmus may be an option for them, if the Astros decide to sell, Jay Bruce from the Reds, or even Josh Reddick from across the Bay when the A’s inevitably hit refresh. With Pagan and Blanco both coming off the books next year, Nick Markakis of the Braves might even be a more long-term solution for them.
But that’s still a ways off, and the Giants have the luxury of time and breathing room to see just how badly Pence is hurt, and how their roster is going to shape up for the rest of 2016 before rushing into any decision.