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Pence hitting sixth in long-awaited '15 debut

All-Star right fielder recovered from fractured left arm

CINCINNATI -- The Giants took a giant step closer toward being whole Saturday.

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said three-time All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence was on his way from Las Vegas to Cincinnati on Friday night. The team activated Pence for Saturday night's game against the Reds and inserted him into the lineup batting sixth and playing right field.

Pence has been on the 15-day disabled list all season recovering from a fractured left arm.

"His presence means a lot," Bochy said. "He brings energy, enthusiasm … all those things. It'll be good to have him back."

Pence got 17 at-bats during an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Sacramento, including a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored Thursday at Las Vegas.

The return of Pence comes at an opportune time for the Giants, who are struggling to stay around .500 and averaging just 3.29 runs per game, next-to-last in the National League.

"An offense can always use a Hunter Pence," Bochy said. "He's a big threat in the lineup."

Pence batted .277 and scored a career-high 106 runs last year, his second full season with the Giants. He contributed 29 doubles, 10 triples, 20 home runs, and 74 RBIs. He also won over the Bay Area with a fan-friendly social media presence and good-natured reaction to signs extolling (and sometimes exaggerating) his virtues.

An errant pitch from Corey Black of the Chicago Cubs during the first week of Cactus League play hit Pence's left forearm and put him on the disabled list with a non-displaced fracture of the left ulna bone.

Pence started 331 consecutive games from September 2012 to September 2014 and had played in at least 150 games every season since 2008.

Matt Cain (strained flexor tendon) threw a 30-fastball bullpen session Friday and will throw another Tuesday. "I think it went really well," Bochy said. "The next step is to throw some flat-ground breaking balls. He is not close to facing hitters yet."

Andy Call is a contributor to
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