Hamstring surgery to sideline Hunter Pence

Word is that Hunter Pence will undergo surgery Thursday after tearing his right hamstring tendon.

Pence had been struggling with a minor hamstring strain in the final weeks of May; he reportedly felt it pop as he sprinted to first during Wednesday’s game in Atlanta — a fitting start to the June Swoon.

The surgery should sideline Pence for at least eight weeks. So, best case scenario for the Giants is that their star right fielder will be back by August, in time for a potential postseason push.

But those eight weeks of Pence-less baseball pose an issue for a lefty-heavy team with relatively shallow outfield depth.

Do the Giants work with what they’ve got? Angel Pagan‘s return to left from the DL is still a week in the works. Gregor Blanco is a proven, versatile piece to the puzzle. For now, Bruce Bochy will hope for Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker to step up; both have pop but have struggled a bit with big league pitchers.

And, hey, Brandon Belt and Kelby Tomlinson can always fill in– We know Tomlinson has a cannon.

The other option is to look externally. Names like Ryan Braun (in year one of a 5yr, $105 million contract), Jay Bruce and Josh Reddick (both 2017 free agents) popped up as potential trade targets.

They also might look to smaller veteran pieces like Jeff Francoeur, who’s with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

A big trade at this point in June seems unlikely; bringing in a big name, especially, would be a knee-jerk attempt to fill gaps the Giants aren’t sure exist yet.

The Giants have deep pockets, but it’s in their best interest to be frugal…logical. By the time July 31 rolls around they can take a step back,  evaluate how the injured have rebounded, and then make a move.

The Giants own a .467 winning percentage without Pence in the lineup–compared to a .633 average with him–since 2015, a year that had him flip flopping from the DL with wrist and oblique injuries. The offense also averages an entire run more with Pence (4.87 with, 3.90 without). Not the best news for an offensively dry 2016 team.

For now, they can rely on solid pitching and defense to carry them through this drought. The Giants are 18-5 in their last 23 games when the Big Three (Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija) toe the rubber.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.