Giants' catcher Hector Sanchez can't shake spring camp injury bug
Roster spot in jeopardy if backstop can't get healthy soon
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 9:31 p.m.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — If Hector Sanchez had the kind of spring training in 2012 that he's having now, he'd have never made the opening day roster. As it stands, with less than three weeks to go before the start of the 2013 season, things are starting to get dicey for the young Giants catcher to be ready for the opener.
Sanchez has been troubled by shoulder and calf injuries so far this spring. He has logged just 21 innings behind the plate, and he's hitting just .211 (4 for 19, no home runs). Contrast that with last spring, when he hit .383 and four homers and 10 RBIs to capture a roster spot he held all season as Buster Posey's only real backup.
In recent days, Sanchez appeared to have overcome the physical issues, but Thursday he had to be scratched from a start against Japan's World Baseball Classic team when his right shoulder flared up to the degree that he couldn't even hit, let alone throw, without pain.
“The doctor told me that the muscle got tired because I was doing too much work,” Sanchez said. “They told me I had to take a couple days off and then start working again.”
If the pain doesn't subside, Sanchez said, the Giants will have an MRI done.
Even before this latest setback, the 23-year-old switch-hitter knew he was up against it.
“It's been difficult,” Sanchez said. “I just don't feel right now like my game is 100 percent. Because I hurt my calf and shoulder, my timing has been bad. Then when you have a couple of days when you're not playing, you try to do too much when you come back.”
Sanchez was behind the plate Tuesday night with Tim Lincecum on the mound and had a miserable game that included a throwing error and a passed ball.
Even beyond those tangible mistakes, he just didn't look sharp.
“It was a rough night for Hector,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I have to get him back there as much as I can, because he's behind right now.”
That will be problematic if the new shoulder issue lingers. Sanchez admitted he's been feeling some pain for the past couple days but didn't tell the Giants' training staff. Then Thursday, the pain was so extreme he said it scared him.
The Giants would rather not consider alternatives to Sanchez. He was simply too valuable last year when the club spelled Posey as often as possible in his comeback season from reconstructive ankle surgery.
Sanchez made 48 starts and logged 441 innings behind the plate, compared with Posey's 973.
Giants player who saw time behind the plate, and that was for a mere three starts and 37 innings.
Moreover, Sanchez established himself as Barry Zito's primary catcher, and later in the season, Lincecum. Sanchez caught 25 of Zito's 32 starts — developing a nice rapport with the veteran left-hander — and was behind the plate for 16 of Lincecum's 33 starts.
Sanchez also gave the Giants offensive presence, hitting .280 with three home runs and 34 RBIs, although he walked just five times in 227 plate appearances.
The Giants don't have the safety net at catcher they once did. Whitesideis with the Texas Rangers' organization and Tommy Joseph, a strong prospect, was sent to Philadelphia in the Hunter Pence deal. There are high hopes for Andrew Susac, but he has already been sent to minor-league camp.
The leading candidate if Sanchez can't go would appear to be Guillermo Quiroz, a 31-year-old, 13-year pro who has spent just 103 games in the big leagues, 56 of those with Baltimore in 2008. Jackson Williams, who was the primary catcher at Triple-A Fresno last year, is in the mix, and Double-A catcher Johnny Monell also might become a factor, largely as a result of his hot hitting this spring.
“We think we have some coverage there,” said Bochy. “Obviously, we hope that Sanchez is going to be fine. But sure, there should be some concern at this point.”
JAPAN 6, GIANTS 3
Japan waited for the World Baseball Classic semifinals and roughed up San Francisco starter Yusmeiro Petit for four runs and six of its 11 hits in four innings.
Sho Nakata had three hits, and Takashi Toritani added two hits and two RBIs
Nakata, a power-hitting first baseman, had a run-scoring triple in the fourth, and added two singles and scored twice. Japan used eight pitchers to limit the Giants to five hits while striking out 10.
The Giants' lineup included key regulars Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval,
Japan ace Masahiro Tanaka gave up three hits in two innings, yielding Francisco Peguero's one-out RBI single in the second.
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