As the Giants look to fill in their fourth/fifth starter slots in Spring Training, their former fourth man, Jonathan Sanchez donned his blue Royals attire for the first time earlier this week, and made sure to thank the Giants’ organization for their love during his near six years by the Bay:
"I thank the Giants for giving me the opportunity to play in the big leagues for almost six years"
For Giant fans, there was a bit of a cringe letting Sanchez go. I’m pretty sure we can all remember where we were – what we were doing that faithful night of July 10th, 2009 when Sanchez’s electric stuff baffled San Diego Padre hitters, resulting in the San Francisco Giants’ first no-hitter in almost 33 years. More than that though, Sanchez was filled with potential. His stuff? When it was on – some may have argued it was the most nasty on the entire staff – which says a lot given his Giant counterparts. It was just a matter of time until that potential was realized and he was going to be a number two arm pitching towards the back half of the rotation thanks to the Giants gluten of elite arms. But, then there was Sanchez’s attitude – the nonchalantness – the, well, this kind of stuff:
"“I like to strike out people. That’s the way I pitch,” he said. “I walk guys, (but) as long as they don’t score, I’m good.”"
No, Jonathan, no – that’s not “good”. Yes, you do posses stuff that can at times get you out of those scenarios but as we all saw way too many times, you couldn’t. Going into a league that doesn’t breed offensive breaks with sub-par hitting catchers and pitchers batting? May the pitching God’s have mercy on your control.
I liked Jonathan, and like most Giant fans, we all rooted for him to take that next step – the ability, the talent, it was there. Mentally though, as we witnessed first hand so many times, it wasn’t. He was fragile in big moments. His desire to harness his elite stuff into an elite mental game? It just wasn’t there.
I’m not sure you see the lack of a mental game holding players back in baseball that you might in the NFL, or especially in the NBA – but there’s no doubt, for me, that while Sanchez had all of the tools to be elite – his desire to be, just wasn’t there. Comments like his above, simple and unassuming as they might be, just speak to his overall lack of want.
Sanchez teased us with the “if only’s” and “what if’s” – so while I’ll miss the what could have been moments, I wont miss knowing they never would have come true.
No ill-will here, so good luck in Kansas City, Jonathan. I hope at some point, he “gets it” – but like those that have come before him with elite arms and suspect desires to be great, we know how that book usually ends.