SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Hector Sanchez’s recurring shoulder pain is more than a passing inconvenience for the young switch-hitting catcher, and it could throw a size 15 shoe in the machinery as the Giants plot their roster decisions – including how much they plan to tax Buster Posey behind the plate this season.
First, the latest on Sanchez: He was scratched from Thursday’s lineup and didn’t even take part in rundown drills because his right shoulder flared up again while getting loose. He tried hitting in the cage but the pain was even worse when he tried to bat from the left side.
“I can’t get extension,” Sanchez said. “I feel in back side of shoulder, a lot of pain. … That scares me because it is really painful.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy agreed “there should be some concern at this point,” but said Sanchez would rest for a couple days in the hopes it would calm down with treatment. Sanchez said he’s dealt with shoulder soreness since playing winter ball in Venezuela, though, so it’s not an overreaction to think he could begin the season on the disabled list.
And what then? What are the Giants’ coverage options?
Bochy mentioned Guillermo Quiroz, who has played for five major league clubs while scattering 105 games over six seasons. Jackson Williams is considered a quality defender, but he is bereft of big league experience.
Then there’s Johnny Monell, who entered as a .600 hitter. Bochy made it pretty clear Monell isn’t ready to catch in the big leagues, but he’ll be evaluated closely over the next couple weeks.
“We’ve got some guys who can handle the staff,” Bochy said. “Johnny’s probably a guy who needs more time, but he’s made noise here and he’ll get more time. You like his bat. It works. He hasn’t caught a lot (this spring), in fairness to him, and he’ll get the chance to catch more. We’ll be open minded here.”
[RELATED: Johnny Monell having an eye-opening spring]
Translation: Monell can keep hitting .600 the rest of the spring. But his chances of making the club would be much greater if he shows proficiency behind the plate.
If the Giants have to open with Quiroz or someone of a similar ilk, though, it’s going to be a heck of a lot tougher to take Posey out of the lineup. And it wouldn’t be easy to move him to first base, either, since that would mean swapping in Quiroz’s bat for Brandon Belt.
The best outcome would be if Sanchez’s shoulder responds to treatment and he’s able to get well by Opening Day. That sure sounds like an overly optimistic scenario, though.
Gary Brown hit his first home run of the spring, but the Giants didn’t get another extra-base hit (and only four other hits total) against eight Team Japan pitchers in a 6-3 loss.
Japan’s starter, Masahiro Tanaka, is likely to be posted after the season and impressed me with his ability to throw three pitches for strikes. (Tanaka would line up to start the final for Japan, if the team advances past the semifinal game.)
But Bochy has complained several times about the younger players being too passive in their at-bats. He renewed the complaint after the exhibition loss, which was covered by an overflow crowd of Japanese reporters.
“We didn’t have many good swings,” Bochy said. “That’s what disappointed me. We were passive with the bats. We haven’t faced them, but you’ve still got to take a good swing and we didn’t get too many off. We’ve got to get aggressive and we weren’t.”
Roger Kieschnick, Nick Noonan, Adam Duvall, Juan Perez and Ehire Adrianza are all below the Mendoza Line.
Then there’s Francisco Peguero. He almost took Masahiro Tanaka’s head off with a line single up the middle. He’s hitting .457 this spring and you can tell he’s so much more confident now that his right knee is fully healed from surgery in 2011. He spent all last year rehabbing on the field but it affected his hitting as well as his overall mobility.
The longer he keeps making loud contact and staying on pitches, the more and more he’ll wedge himself into the discussion for a spot on the opening-day roster – and maybe even shoehorn his way into left field.
Peguero, 24, is a right-handed hitter. So if Andres Torres can’t stay healthy or otherwise reestablish himself, the opportunity will be there for the taking.
The pressure’s going to be on Cole Gillespie to finish this spring with a flourish, that’s for sure. As of right now, Peguero is the obvious choice.
Left-hander Mike Kickham had a rough one, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. He was effectively wild at Double-A last season, but hitters get more patient as you move up the ladder. He’s finding that out now.
Monell was hit by a pitch way up and in, but stayed in the game and appeared to be fine. There appeared to have been some grumbling when Japan, leading 6-2, tried to steal a base against Scott Proctor in the seventh inning. But there were no international incidents.
How fitting that Japan used a player named (Yuichi) Honda as a pinch runner. Of course, the Giants used to have a (Darren) Ford. And, back in the day, a (Luis) Mercedes.
Add Joaquin Arias to the list of players taking ground balls at first base. Hey, if Manny Burriss can do it …
Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens is hitting the recruiting trail. He got hard-throwing Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen and Rangers superprospect Jurickson Profar to commit to the Dutch team as injury replacements for the WBC. I don’t see Japan doing the same thing to get Yu Darvish on board for a start.
I’m starting to think the Netherlands could win this whole thing.
Amazing how the Yankees are trying to drag players out of retirement to play first base. Derrek Lee was the latest to tell them thanks but no thanks.
I have it on good authority that the Yankees placed a call to Joe Pepitone. But he accidentally answered his hair dryer.
Olive Garden sent a Tweet from its corporate account to Brandon Belt after hearing about his love for the unlimited salad and breadsticks:
“Thanks for being a fan! It may not be a World Series Champion, but we love our salad dressing too! DM us & we'll send you a supply!”
Just a thought, but maybe Belt should start Tweeting about his favorite sports cars next.