The Rangers announced that they’ve placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day injured list with a right groin strain. His roster spot’s going to fellow outfielder Willie Calhoun, whom the Rangers activated from the IL after he missed just under a month with a strained left quad.
This is the first setback in what has been a stunning renaissance season for Pence, who’s a key reason why the Rangers are unexpectedly in wild-card position at the moment. Since signing a minor league contract in the offseason, the former Astro, Phillie and Giant, 36, has slashed .294/.353/.608 (143 wRC+) with 15 home runs in 215 plate appearances. For reference, Pence combined for a 145 wRC+ over the previous two seasons, when it appeared his days as even a passable major leaguer were long over.
While the loss of Pence is an unwelcome development for the Rangers, who are tied with the Red Sox for the AL’s last playoff spot, the return of Calhoun is encouraging. Acquired from the Dodgers in July 2017 for right-hander Yu Darvish, Calhoun fell short of expectations during his first year-plus in the Texas organization. But the 24-year-old got off to an excellent start this season at the Triple-A level, where he hit .302/.417/.540 with eight homers and more unintentional walks (24) than strikeouts (21) in 152 attempts, and carried that to the Rangers when they promoted him May 15. Calhoun batted .435/.458/.739 with a pair of HRs in 24 PA in the week between his call-up and his IL placement.