CINCINNATI -- The Rangers missed out on a chance for a weekend sweep with an 11-3 loss to the Reds on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, but the bigger story was Hunter Pence leaving the game in the fifth inning with tightness in his right groin muscle.
The injury did not look good. Pence will undergo further evaluation on Monday in Arlington, including an MRI, but it comes at a time when Pence was building momentum for All-Star consideration as a designated hitter.
“I saw what you saw,” manager Chris Woodward said. “I am not a doctor, but when it looks like he got shot, it’s never a good sign. Hunter is kind of a freak, so maybe he’ll be better than I anticipated. When you see a guy pull up like that, it’s typically never a good sign. I don’t think it’s great, but we’ll see the severity of it tomorrow.”
Woodward is bracing for the possibility of Pence going on the injured list. Pence, speaking after the game with a wrap on his leg, said he is hoping to avoid that.
“In all honesty, it is already feeling a lot better,” Pence said. “I definitely did not feel anything extraordinary, so that’s a good sign. It grabbed on me a little but the fact that I feel a lot better, I’m moving pretty good, is a good sign.”
The Rangers have Willie Calhoun ready to come off the injured list to replace Pence if needed. Calhoun has been sidelined since May 22 with a strained left quad muscle and he just finished a four-game rehab stint at Triple-A Nashville. Calhoun was hit by a pitch in his last plate appearance on Sunday against Salt Lake City, but he was not injured.
“He’s ready to go,” Woodward said.
Outfielder Joey Gallo is also on the IL with a strained left oblique muscle, but he is still another week away from returning. Gallo is reporting to Arizona on Monday to continue his rehab work at the Rangers’ Spring Training complex.
Pence started in right field because outfielder Nomar Mazara was given the day off with soreness in his hamstring behind the right knee. Mazara is also getting an MRI on Monday and Woodward admitted there is a possibility that one of those two outfielders will have to go on the injured list
“If I was a betting man, I would assume Hunter,” Woodward said. “Maz was feeling better today, so that was encouraging.”
Pence injured the leg on the warning track near the right-field line while chasing Jose Peraza’s long fly ball leading off the inning. He pulled up as the ball landed just inside fair territory and bounced into the stands. Pence immediately came out of the game.
The start of the game was delayed for one hour and 34 minutes because of rain, and the warning track was still muddy when play began. Pence said that was not a factor.
“I think it was a ball I was going all out [for] and it was potentially going to be a dive, and I was trying to get there and it just happens sometimes,” Pence said. “I’m running and it grabs, it just stops you. That happens, try to pay attention to my body and if you push through that it can get really bad. Luckily it didn’t pop, and I’m feeling better, so that’s exciting.”
Pence hit a two-run home run in the third inning, his 15th of the season. He also has a club-leading 48 RBIs.
Rangers starter Ariel Jurado took the loss, snapping his personal three-game winning streak. He allowed seven runs in three-plus innings and is 4-3 with a 4.23 ERA on the season.