Hunter Pence to miss first week of spring training games

Hunter Pence has been dealing with a nagging foot injury since the San Francisco Giants opened camp, and according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, it will cost him the first week of spring training games.

“Manager Bruce Bochy estimated that Pence will not appear in a Cactus League game for about a week, which means he would miss the first five games or so. They start Wednesday.”

For now, this isn’t a big deal. Early spring training games normally don’t mean much to a veteran player like Hunter Pence, who was also quoted by Schulman.

“We’re being extremely conservative,” Pence said. “I do want to get out there as soon as possible, but the most important thing is getting it completely feeling good because we don’t want to start over.”

That’s all well and good. A soon-to-be 33-year-old player should be conservative when coming back from an injury. If Pence is sidelined for only five early cactus league games, he’ll lose maybe 10 at-bats at the absolute most.

The problem is that Pence, once one of the most durable players in the game, missed all but 52 games in 2015. He was out for nearly all of spring training and the early part of the regular season after getting hit by a pitch in the arm.

Granted, that’s a freak injury, and the injuries that cost him later games in 2015 don’t seem to be related to the current ailment. Still, this is certainly not a good sign as it relates to his longevity.

Injuries are never a good thing for players but when the players in question are in their 30’s, they become even more worrisome. Also, Pence isn’t exactly a guy who’s likely to ever give it less than 100 percent. While that’s an admirable quality, it also increases the chances of another injury.

At the very least, this is a sign that Bruce Bochy will likely be more liberal in giving Pence days off once the season starts. With Denard Span, Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, and possibly Jarrett Parker in the mix, the Giants will have outfield depth, but a healthy Pence is necessary if they’re going to compete for a championship in 2016.