Jonathan Sanchez strolled into camp looking a bit different this year.
The 6'2" lefty is 12 pounds heavier than in 2009.
Normally that's a reason for face palms, mumbles, and grumbles from an already impatient fanbase.
Now if Sanchez weighed 245 pounds (ahem, Pablo Sandoval), that could prove problematic fatigue-wise down the stretch. The Giants need to stay fit in order to continue producing during September.
But Sanchez’s weight gain is meant to help, not hurt.
It is believed that his velocity and durability will improve thanks to his heavier figure.
It also revisits a lingering question that has followed Sanchez since he broke into the majors in 2006.
When will Sanchez find any consistency?
There's no question he has the stuff. When Randy Johnson described Jonathan's stuff as "ace-like" last year, that was enough to convince me Sanchez could be the real deal if he just found some consistency.
Unfortunately, the first half of last year did not bode well for Sanchez, as he posted a 2-8 record and a forgettable 5.54 ERA. Bruce Bochy banished Sanchez to the bullpen and replaced him with Ryan Sadowski (a.k.a. The "BIG" Sadowski).
We all know what happened after that.
If Sanchez' no-hitter on July 10 wasn’t enough to convince Giants fans he had the stuff, then maybe his 6-4 record and solid 3.46 ERA after the no-no might have done the trick.
Last year is a prime example of Giants fans' frustration with Sanchez' inconsistencies. As a results, Giants fans have had a love-hate relationship with Sanchez, and rightfully so.
Sanchez' inconsistencies have landed him disappointing career stats. In three full years, Sanchez has compiled a 21-30 record and a bloated 4.81 ERA. Once considered a Giants top prospect, Jonathan has been disappointing with flashes of brilliance here and there.
Fans have long waited for Sanchez to take the "next step" and live up to his full potential. So far that clearly hasn't happened.
I've often heard the excuse, "He's a lefty, and lefties take a while to bloom." Okay, fine, but how long exactly can Giants fans wait? It's been over three years. The pitching they are blessed with won’t last forever, so why not make the best of it?
Another frustration is that Sanchez has the potential to become a major piece to the puzzle but fails to do so.
Imagine a rotation with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez at the top of their games.
It's a scary thought, but it could very well happen in 2010 if Sanchez stays on the right track. It could even mean the difference between October baseball and an early trip home.
Perhaps the second half of last year was an indication of Sanchez’s turnaround. Maybe Sanchez has finally taken that step forward and won't look back. Maybe Sanchez has reminded himself how filthy his stuff is. More importantly, maybe he realizes he can be that extra push that helps the Giants into the playoffs.
I, as well as many other fans, believe this is Jonathan's year to shine.
But then again, maybe not.
Only time will tell.