SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Hector Sanchez’s bumpy spring just hit a big, fat nail in the road – and all of the sudden, the Giants might have another job up for grabs on their opening-day roster.
Sanchez aggravated his sore shoulder while throwing to bases in a rundown drill Thursday and was scratched from the Giants’ exhibition lineup against Team Japan. Johnny Monell will start behind the plate, instead.
Sanchez has caught just 21 innings this spring because of shoulder and calf irritation, and he looked especially rough in a start Tuesday night. He committed a throwing error and had a passed ball, and didn’t appear to have any sort of timing with the bat, either.
[BAGGARLY: Could Sanchez's job be up for grabs?]
The young switch-hitter was expected to be Buster Posey’s backup again this season, but the Giants are prioritizing defense at every turn. And a catcher who can’t throw represents a significant problem.
There’s still three weeks until Opening Day, so there’s still time for Sanchez’s shoulder to calm down. But the Giants do have other options in camp – including Monell, who is hitting .600 this spring (9 for 15) and has two doubles and a home run over his last three games.
[BAGGARLY: Johnny Monell having an eye-opening spring]
The left-handed hitter has worked hard to shed a label as a questionable defender, and he does have above average arm strength. But after Posey, non-roster free agent Guillermo Quiroz is considered the most capable defensive catcher in camp. The 31-year-old is a .206 hitter in 103 games scattered over eight major league seasons. He appeared briefly with the Red Sox last year and also has played for the Rangers, Orioles, Rangers and Blue Jays.
(Yes, that’s right – he’s played for five big league teams despite just 103 career games.)
The most interesting quirk in Quiroz’s background: He played for the Venezuela team that won the Little League World Series. Not only that, but one of his teammates back then was right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, who is starting for the Giants against Japan.
Neither Quiroz nor Monell is on the 40-man roster. But the Giants have had an open 40-man roster spot since the trade of Conor Gillaspie to the Chicago White Sox.
Check back later today for more news on Sanchez, as I expect the Giants will schedule some tests on his shoulder.