It’s possible Giants outfielder Hunter Pence has played his last game with the team, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports California observes. The Giants have to make a decision on Pence’s future within the next six days, when his minor league rehab assignment will end. In the event San Francisco releases Pence, who helped the club to two World Series titles as a younger player, it’ll have to eat the remainder of his $18.5MM salary. But if Pence gets another shot with the Giants, he’ll return having undergone some offensive adjustments with the help of private instructor Doug Latta – whose students also include Mac Williamson and the Dodgers’ Justin Turner – Pavlocic details. Pence feels “way better” after working with Latta, and has hit well in the minors since making the changes. The respected veteran got off to a rough start in the majors this year (.172/.197/.190 in 61 plate appearances) before going on the disabled list April 19 with a thumb issue.
More from the game’s West divisions…
- The Angels expect Shohei Ohtani to make his next start during their upcoming series against the Tigers, which runs from Monday to Thursday, manager Mike Scioscia said Saturday (via Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times). Ohtani had been scheduled to start Sunday against the Yankees, but the Angels elected against that as a way to manage the phenom’s workload. The pitcher/hitter hasn’t taken the mound since last Sunday, when he cruised past the Rays to record his fifth quality start in seven attempts, but has been in the Angels’ starting lineup five times this week.
- The free-falling Diamondbacks may welcome both lefty Robbie Ray and righty Shelby Miller back in mid-June, general manager Mike Hazen told reporters, including Kathleen Fitzgerald of AZCentral and Nick Piecoro of AZCentral. After getting off to a 24-11 start, the Diamondbacks have lost 14 of 16, perhaps thanks in part to the absences of Ray (strained oblique) and Taijuan Walker (Tommy John surgery) since late April. The D-backs’ banged-up rotation is hardly the primary reason for their slide (the club’s offense has only averaged two runs per game during its slump), but the returns of Ray and Miller should be welcome nonetheless. Along with Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin and Zack Godley, Ray and Miller would help form a nice rotation on paper. Miller has been working back since he underwent a Tommy John procedure last May.
- There was optimism about injured Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill earlier this week, but manager Dave Roberts suggested to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times and other reporters Saturday that his return’s not exactly imminent. Hill’s still “a ways away” from returning from his long-running blister issues, per Roberts. The 38-year-old went back on the DL last Sunday, when Roberts estimated he’d miss at least four weeks. Fortunately for the surging Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw seems to be nearing a return from his own DL stint, and Hill replacement Ross Stripling has been brilliant this season. In a win over the Padres on Friday, Stripling struck out 10 and didn’t issue any walks across 6 2/3 innings of six-hit, one-run ball (unearned).
- The Athletics made a series of moves Saturday, sending Santiago Casilla to the DL with a strained shoulder, optioning Josh Lucas to the minors and recalling Carlos Ramirez and Chris Bassitt. The most notable member of the group is Casilla, who ranks third among A’s relievers in innings pitched this year (21 2/3). Casilla opened his age-37 season with an appealing 3.32 ERA over that span, though he also totaled too few strikeouts and too many walks (14 in each case) and benefited from a .186 batting average on balls in play.