The news out of San Francisco Giants spring training has only been negative for backup catcher Hector Sanchez. The 23-year-old showed up overweight to camp, then injuries have limited his play during arguably the most crucial period of spring.
Sanchez’s spot on the Giants’ 25-man roster is by no means guaranteed, and there are a handful of catchers in the Giants organization that are playing well enough to at least tempt manager Bruce Bochy into starting the season without Sanchez to relieve Buster Posey behind the plate.
“We’ve got to keep it competitive,” Bochy said, per CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly. “That’s the best way to go. There’s no jobs given out here and these guys know it.”
The handful of players competing for Sanchez’s spot are all having arguably the best springs of any players on the Giants’ roster. 26-year-old Johnny Monell has had the most eye-opening spring, batting .600 with nine hits and five RBI in 15 plate appearances. Although his defense could potentially ruin his chances of starting the season in San Francisco, his bat has become a constant force throughout spring training, something the Giants could use in place of Sanchez if injuries continue to limit his playing time over the next few weeks.
Guillermo Quiroz, 31, is another prospect whose bat has been impressive, and he has the upper hand on Monell defensively. Through 15 games of spring training, Quiroz is batting .333 with five hits and six RBI.
In addition to the two front-runners to replace Sanchez, if that is indeed what Bochy and the Giants decide to do, catchers Jackson Williams and Tyler La Torre will also get sufficient looks from the coaching staff. Williams is the man behind the plate for AAA-Fresno, and La Torre’s production for the surprising Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic will earn him nothing but opportunities as spring training wraps up in the coming weeks.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea is reporting that Bochy is leaning towards the more experienced catchers if Sanchez needs more time to recover from injury.
“Manager said there's "some concern at this point" about whether Sanchez can be the No. 2 catcher behind Posey and mentioned , who has played 103 games for five big-league teams, and Jackson Williams as possible replacements.”Bochy has decent options to backup Posey at catcher to start the regular season, but the bigger issue is Sanchez’s condition. Although his injury status does not appear to be serious, his .211 batting average in 19 games this spring is. Sanchez will need to recover and regroup if the Giants are to see a more experienced and productive backup catcher at any point in the regular season.