The Rays have a reliever in camp who is blind in one eye

20 Comments

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote a really interesting profile yesterday on Juan Sandoval, a 32-year-old reliever who has been invited to Rays’ camp. He’s trying to keep his baseball career alive despite the fact that he’s completely blind in his right eye.

Sandoval once had some promise as a pitching prospect with the Mariners, but his life changed in February of 2006. While he was out to dinner one night in his hometown in the Dominican Republic, a restaurant security guard and a drunken old man got into a scuffle which resulted in gunfire. Sandoval turned his head to look and was hit with shotgun pellets, including three in his right eye. Doctors were able to save his eye following a seven-hour surgery, but not his vision.

Sandoval actually made it back to baseball less than a year later, but he has understandably had some trouble adjusting. He has bounced around quite bit since then, spending the past two seasons in the Mexican League, but he made it on the Rays’ radar after Joel Peralta placed a call to executive vice president Andrew Friedman over the winter.

Sandoval isn’t going to make the Rays out of spring training, but he has received some rave reviews from manager Joe Maddon and could begin the season with Triple-A Durham. While you wouldn’t blame Sandoval if he had some bitterness about his hard luck, he certainly isn’t showing it.

“Being honest with you, if I could change something that happened in my life, I would not change anything,” Sandoval said. “Everything that has happened has made me the person that I am right now. And I’m a really happy person. …

“This opportunity is something I was dreaming of. And I’m here.”

Not sure how you can’t root for this guy.

Marte Par-tay! Dbacks on the verge of acquiring Starling Marte

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Arizona Diamondbacks — employer of All-Star Ketel Marte — are about to double their Marte pleasure, with multiple outlets reporting that they are on the verge of acquiring Pirates outfield Starling Marte in a trade. Making it a Marte par-tay in Phoenix.

Starling Marte is coming off a .295/.342/.503 season in which he hit 23 homers and stole 25 bases while manning center field for the Buccos. Center is where Ketel played most of last season, but with Starling on the roster, Ketel would likely move back to second base.

Heading back to Pittsburgh, prospects Liover Peguero and Brennan Malone, each of whom are generally considered to be top-10-ish prospects for Pittsburgh, but not likely top-5-ish. They’ll rank higher in the Pirates’ thinner farm system. Peguero is a shortstop who just turned 19 and hasn’t played above A-ball. Malone, also 19, is a righty pitcher who was the 33rd overall selection in last year’s draft.