'It's going to give these guys a lift,' Bochy says of veteran's return
By Justin Wise
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said earlier this week that San Francisco had no plans of rushing Hunter Pence back before the team's homestand concluded.
However, Pence's progress was "pretty dramatic" the past couple of days, and the 11-year veteran returned to the Giants clubhouse Friday and he right fielder was activated from the disabled list Saturday and will return to the lineup. Infielder Ramiro Pena has been designated for assignment.
"He's made such good progress that we feel he is ready," Bochy said before the Giants' 4-1 loss to the Nationals on Friday. "His leg feels great, he feels like he's ready to go."
Pence has been on the disabled list since June 2, after tearing his right hamstring while running to first in a game against the Atlanta Braves a day prior. The injury was serious enough to require surgery.
Pence said he tried to deal with the setback in a positive light, but expressed how anxious he's been to return to a Giants lineup in need of a clear boost.
"I play the game with a lot of emotion, a lot energy," said Pence, who was batting .298 with 36 RBIs in 50 games. "Hopefully I can pour as much of that vibe onto the field and give a little boost. I intend to come ready to help."
Pence hit .417 (10-for-24) with three home runs in seven games with Triple-A Sacramento and said that his leg gradually improved during that time.
"He's got so much energy," Bochy said of Pence. "It's going to give these guys a lift."
His return comes as the Giants are getting various additions to their roster. Opening Day second baseman Joe Panik was back in the lineup Thursday, after missing 23 games because of a concussion. In addition, infielder Eduardo Nunez was acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Twins, and came off the bench in the ninth inning Friday, striking out in his first at-bat with the club. Jarrett Parker was optioned to Sacramento in a corresponding roster move.
Nunez gives the Giants obvious depth in the infield, but can also provide the club with a level of speed they haven't had. Nunez was leading the American League with 26 steals.
"We're not a power-hitting club, this gives us another way to hopefully put some runs across the board," Bochy said. "Speed makes it a little easier to score runs when you're not hitting the ball out of the ball park."
Bochy said that Nunez's addition could alter the batting order.
"We'll put some thought into this," said Bochy. "I'm going to talk to some players."
• Relief pitcher Cory Gearrin, who is on the 15-day DL with a right shoulder strain, began his rehab assignment with Sacramento on Friday.
• Shortstop Ehire Adrianza is expected to return to the Giants next week. Adrianza, has missed 92 games this season with a fractured left foot.
Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.