No catcher has played in 100 major league games in his age-22 season since Brian McCann in 2006. Hector Sanchez probably won’t be the next — actually, Kansas City’s Salvador Perez figures to pull off the feat if he stays healthy this season — but he is bidding to make the Giants as a backup catcher and pinch-hitter at age 22.
The switch-hitting Sanchez homered from both side of the plate after coming off the bench Sunday against the Mariners, giving him three homers and eight RBI in 14 at-bats for the spring.
Even before his outburst, the Giants were giving a lot of thought to carrying Sanchez. As things stand now, both of their best bench bats — Brandon Belt and Mike Fontenot — are lefties, as are the regulars they’re most likely to want to pinch-hit for (shortstop Brandon Crawford and outfielder Nate Schierholtz). They definitely need a better righty stick than Ryan Theriot’s to combat lefty relievers late in games.
That’s where Sanchez could step in. And if he hits, then the Giants would feel a lot better about giving Buster Posey one or two starts per week at first base. The Giants have Eli Whiteside penciled in as Posey’s backup, but Sanchez would be a more intriguing option to start those games when Posey slides over.
One would think that’d have to play into a decision to keep Sanchez. He’s still too young and too raw to be limited to a couple of starts per month and the handful of extra at-bats he’ll get as a pinch-hitter. He’d be better off in the minors if he’s not occupying a significant role in San Francisco.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.