Pence enjoys big day vs. former club

Outfielder totals 3 hits, home run in Cactus League bout

March 11th, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rangers outfielder had another big day at Scottsdale Stadium on Sunday. Pence, playing against former teammates and in front of his old fans, had three hits, including a home run, in the Rangers' 7-6 victory over the Giants.

Pence again received rousing ovations from Giants fans as he did in his first trip to Scottsdale on March 8. Pence played for the Giants in 2012-18, helping them win two World Series, before signing with the Rangers this winter.

“Appreciate the opportunity I had to play in [San Francisco],” Pence said. “It’s really cool, and it’s special to me. It really is an honor to have been a part of such a great team. My whole goal is just to be able to give everything I can. I love the game of baseball. I was grateful to be part of that organization, that city; that fanbase is incredible.”

He’ll have another big day on Monday. Pence is scheduled to play the outfield for the first time when the Rangers face the Angels in the afternoon game of their doubleheader. Pence has been limited to designated hitter since the beginning of the Cactus League because of a sore right shoulder but has been going through all the defensive workouts over the past week.

The shoulder has not limited him offensively. His 3-for-3 day on Sunday left him 10-for-27 (.370) for the spring with four doubles and two home runs. But no matter what kind of Spring Training he has, Pence is still looking at a limited role as a fourth outfielder behind Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo.

“He understands that,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He knows where the playing time lies if he makes the team. We had that conversation before he signed. I can’t promise anything. He said he won’t change, he wants to win. Obviously he wants to play more but he’ll accept any role on the team.”

Smyly builds up

Starter pushed up to 50 pitches over 2 1/3 innings in the Rangers' win over the Giants. He allowed one run on three hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four.

Smyly should have three outings left in Spring Training, and the goal is to get up to 90 pitches going into the regular season. He has missed the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.

“Just got to keep going out there, getting the work in, building the reps,” Smyly said. “It was another solid day. Just continue to build on it. Just continue to push the pitch counts and the innings and build it up like a starter. Just continue to fine-tune everything and get going in the regular season.”

Darvish, Hammel on target for Texas

The Cubs have not announced their rotation beyond Opening Day starter Jon Lester, but they are lined up to have Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels against the Rangers in the first series of the season.

Darvish and Hamels have been lined up behind Lester in Spring Training just as Lance Lynn and Edinson Volquez have followed Mike Minor for the Rangers. Woodward announced Sunday that Minor will be their Opening Day starter against Lester on March 28.

Hamels was the Rangers Opening Day starter in 2018, and Darvish did the honors in 2017. They have not faced the Rangers in the regular season since Darvish was traded in 2017 and Hamels was dealt last season. Darvish said he is looking forward to it.

“I want to hit a couple of guys,” Darvish said. “[Joey] Gallo and [Rougned] Odor.”

Rangers beat:

• Infielder Christian Lopes was returned to Minor League camp. Lopes, a non-roster invitee, has been sidelined since the beginning of Spring Training with a strained oblique muscle and has not played in a Cactus League game. He spent all last season at Triple-A Round Rock, playing third, shortstop, second and right field.

• Minor’s next scheduled start on Tuesday will be in a Triple-A game against the Padres organization. Right-hander Ariel Jurado will start the night game in Scottsdale against the D-backs.

• Veteran reliever Jeanmar Gomez pitched a scoreless eighth inning against the Giants and has not allowed a run in 6 1/3 innings over five games.

Up Next: The Rangers have a doubleheader at Surprise Stadium on Monday with Shelby Miller scheduled to pitch in the first game at 3:05 p.m. (CT) against the Angels. Closer Jose Leclerc is also scheduled to pitch in that game. The second game starts at 9:05 p.m. (CT) against the Royals with left-hander Yohander Mendez on the mound.