Pablo Sandoval being out 4-6 weeks with a fractured hamate bone has the Giants thinking about creative ways to replace him, which is why second baseman Freddy Sanchez played third base yesterday on his minor-league rehab assignment.
Sanchez has suffered numerous setbacks trying to recover from shoulder problems, so counting on him returning as a productive player is iffy enough without a position switch, but Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that the 34-year-old “went to manager Bruce Bochy last week and volunteered to try playing third base.”
Post-surgery arm strength was already going to be an issue for Sanchez at second base and last time he played third base was 2006, but he’s logged more than 1,300 career innings as the position and claims the longer throws are somehow easier on his shoulder.
Of course, it’s also worth noting that Ryan Theriot and Emmanuel Burriss aren’t exactly putting up huge numbers splitting time at second base, so Sanchez returning as a third baseman might solve one problem while leaving another.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter is not expected to retain his position with the club beyond the 2018 season, according to multiple reports from Jon Heyman of Fancred and Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. Nothing appears to be finalized just yet, however, and the Orioles have yet to address rumors of Showalter’s impending departure or news of a possible contract extension for general manager Dan Duquette.
Even so, it’s been a year of near-unprecedented disaster for the 62-year-old skipper, who helped lead the team to a 44-108 record prior to the outcome of Friday’s series opener against the Yankees. With the Orioles’ 108th loss — a 4-6 heartbreaker against the Blue Jays on Tuesday — they tied the 1937 St. Louis Browns for the second-most losses in a single season, eclipsed only by the 43-111 record of the 1939 Browns. As they have just 10 games remaining in the regular season, this year’s team has no chance of climbing out of last place in the AL East and may well finish with the worst record in the AL to boot.
While the Orioles’ missteps don’t bode well for Showalter’s future in Baltimore, he’s brought far more good than harm to the organization over the last eight and a half years. He assumed the managerial position from interim manager Juan Samuel in the middle of the team’s 2010 season and guided the club to five winning seasons and three postseason appearances in 2012, 2014, and 2016. Entering the 2018 season, his record sits at 666 wins and 677 losses, the winningest mark by any of the team’s skippers since Earl Weaver wrapped his 17-season run with the team in 1986. Whether the Orioles believe Showalter is capable of recovering from two consecutive losing seasons and returning the team to their former days of glory (and the occasional division title) remains to be seen, of course, though there’s plenty to recommend him as they prepare to advance a full-scale rebuild over the offseason.