Last year, the San Francisco Giants experienced several problems that hampered their quest to defend their 2010 World Series title. Notably, some devastating injuries prevented the team from even returning to the playoffs, highlighted by the collision heard ‘round the Bay—the mowing of Buster Posey last May.
As a result of the play, the Giants’ star catcher was knocked out for the remainder of the season. By itself, Posey’s absence would hobble any roster, but he was not the only player who suffered significant injury in 2011. In fact, Posey’s broken ankle and three torn ligaments is the least worrisome for San Francisco. Going into spring training, the Giants were confident that Posey would be able to bounce back from the horrific setback and would ultimately regain the form that led him to the 2010 National League Rookie of the Year selection.
In actuality, the more troublesome road to recovery is being driven by second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who sustained his own grotesque injury while diving for a ball last June. The result of the play was a torn labrum and capsule in his right shoulder, which ultimately required surgery performed last August.
Like Posey, Sanchez did not see action for the rest of the 2011 campaign. Unlike Posey, Sanchez has not been able to demonstrate during this spring training that he can perform at a high level. While Posey has seen action at his projected position of catcher, Sanchez has yet to take the field at second base, instead opting to work on his hitting while appearing as the team’s designated hitter in six games. Incidentally, he is batting .278 with a double and three runs scored so far this spring.
But the Giants, as we all know, are not an American League team; thus, no matter if Sanchez bats .923 for the rest of March, it won’t mean a heap of anything if he can’t take the field. As of Monday, Sanchez recognized that he is further away from complete health than he and the Giants would have liked and hoped for. According to CSNBayArea.com, Sanchez the likelihood of being ready to man second base on Opening Day is shrinking.
“We’re getting late,” Sanchez admitted. “It’s got to be in all of our minds, whether, ‘Hey, will I be out there or not?’”
The main issue in his defense is his ability to turn the double play. Obviously, handling the pivot requires some timing, agility and, above all, arm strength. Additionally, the torque that is used in throwing across the body can be extreme, especially when concerned with a shoulder injury. Recovery from such surgeries takes some time, and Sanchez is realizing that it might be a bit longer before he is able to play the field.
What would happen, then, if Sanchez is deemed not ready in time for Opening Day?
It’s probable that Sanchez will have to start the season on the disabled list. Until he is fully recovered, there’s no need for him to occupy a roster spot, especially since the team already has a couple serviceable middle infielders in veterans Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot. The question from there will be how soon will Sanchez get back to 100 percent health?
Make no mistake—Sanchez is a very important cog to the Giants’ defense and offense. He makes solid plays in the field and handles the bat well at the plate. It would be devastating for the Sanchez and the team if he continues ailing in his recovery. Posey and all of the other Giants who are coming back from off seasons or minor injuries will undoubtedly find their footing. But it’s Sanchez’ revival that means a lot to the balance of the Giants lineup.
As long as Sanchez is unable to play the field, San Francisco’s chances to win the NL West will be thrown out the window.