San Francisco Giants starting right fielder Hunter Pence is out six to eight weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his left ulna bone during a spring training game on Thursday.
Pence, 31, was injured when he was hit by Chicago Cubs reliever Corey Black’s inside fastball in the sixth inning. Pence, who usually sprints to first base after being hit by a pitch, stayed down for several seconds before heading towards the base, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.
“You know Hunter. He’s always upbeat and optimistic,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He was trying to move out-of-the-way. It ran in and caught him there. It happens… The silver lining is that at least it’s early in the spring, so he can start the healing process.”
San Francisco (1-2) scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth to earn a 8-6 victory over the Cubs (0-1). Pence was 0-for-2 at the plate before getting plunked and has collected one hit in four at-bats this spring.
Pence took to Twitter to thank his well-wishers.
Pence was placed on the disabled list and will miss the start of the season. Baggarly projected that Pence will miss a minimum of 10 regular season games if he misses just six weeks of action. Curtis Granderson missed 10 weeks with a similar injury while with the New York Yankees in 2013.
Pence’s trip to the disabled list is his first since 2007. It also marks the first time that he will miss time since joining the Giants at the 2012 July trade deadline from Philadelphia. His 383 consecutive regular season appearances is the longest streak among active players.
Pence hit.277 to go along with 20 home runs and 74 RBIs last year. He stepped up his production during the Giants’ World Series Championship run. In 17 postseason games, Pence hit.333, including.444 with one home run and five RBIs against the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.
Pence’s injury further complicates San Francisco’s outfield depth problems. Starting center fielder Angel Pagan is still recovering from September back surgery. Pagan has appeared in one game this spring and has one official at-bat and tallied one run.
Bochy told Christina Kahrl of ESPN.com that he’d continue to use Norichika Aoki, Gregor Blanco, Juan Perez, and Justin Maxwell rotating in the three outfield positions this spring, with the hopes of at least one of them taking Pence’s starting spot when Opening Day rolls around.
Aoki and Maxwell were signed as free agents this offseason after spending last year in Kansas City. Aoki, 33, is expected to be the Giants’ left fielder and occasional leadoff hitter while Maxwell, 31, is a non-roster spring training invitee. Aoki, who doesn’t strike out often, is a career.287 hitter and has 67 steals in three seasons. Maxwell possesses the most power among the other candidates, but he has struck out 32 percent of his at-bats.
Blanco, 31, has played in at least 140 games and accumulated 400 at-bats in each of the past three seasons. He has a career average of.257, 16 home runs, and 82 steals. Perez, 28, has played in 95 career games and has a career batting average of.212.
Black, 23, went to twitter to express his thoughts on hitting Pence.
Black, who was acquired by the Cubs from the New York Yankees in exchange for Alfonso Soriano in 2013, will begin the season in Triple-A Iowa.
“It’s an unfortunate accident,” Black told ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers on Friday morning. “It’s a bad way to start. Today is a new day. You just have to forget about it.”
Pence graciously accepted Black’s apology.
[Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images]