Few players have had a more impressive Spring for the Giants outside of backstop Hector Sanchez. The soon to be 22 year old catcher has ran roughshot on the competition, blasting a team leading 4 HR’s to go with .452 average in 13 games. However, despite the gaudy numbers Sanchez sits blocked by Buster Posey, but that’s not stopping many from clamoring for the Venezuelan product to make the Giants’ opening day roster – especially with the equally sub-par Spring’s from both backup catcher candidates in Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart.
Unfortunately for Sanchez, despite the impressive offensive numbers, he has a few things going against his campaign to make the big show – the two biggest being the Giants skipper and the lack of playing time. With former catcher and notorious veteran loving skipper Bochy at the helm, it seems highly questionable to assume that Bochy would feel comfortable handing backup duties over to a young catcher with almost no Major League experience. Hell, the Giants had to essentially trade Bengie Molina away just to get Buster Posey on the field.
Secondly for Sanchez, you have to wonder what type of stunting you’d do to him as a player by taking him out of an every day role. Some players can adapt easily and learn the game from watching while others are more hands on learners. Granted, Buster Posey will take a few days off a week from catching so Sanchez would find a bit more playing time than normal situations, but is it enough to keep him fresh? Pretty debatable, especially when he has essentially free reign in Fresno to play daily.
Another factor that could play into Sanchez’s role would be that comfortability or lack of when it comes to the Giants’ pitching staff. For a team built around pitching, the last thing you want to do is upset that scenario. That’s not to say the staff wouldn’t adapt to Sanchez quickly, but with Stewart and Whiteside already having established seasons under the staff, there is no need for any meshing time.
There’s no doubt that Sanchez has played his way to the Giants’ opening day roster this Spring, but there are also a lot of roadblocks sitting in his way. The Giants have quite a predicament at backup catcher – do they bring three catcher’s (Posey, Sanchez and a Whiteside/Stewart) north to start the season? Do they promote Sanchez in favor of Whiteside and Stewart? Or do they wait until a roster move/injury further in the season and bring Sanchez up then after some more minor league seasoning? If I had to guess, I’d say the latter.
On another team in another scenario with another manager, Sanchez makes the big boy club pretty easily but with the veteran loving Bochy in addition to the road block and Whiteside/Stewart roster crunch, I think Sanchez is going to spend a bit more time in Fresno before becoming a mainstay at AT&T – but stranger things have happened.