You may have not seen Hector Sanchez in the lineup for the San Diego Padres as much in the last couple of months, but he was in the lineup for the first game of a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants on Monday and he made a big appearance.
Facing one of his former teams, Sanchez took pitcher Jeff Samardzija deep into the right field corner, as he crushed a two-run home run on a 2-2 count with one out in the top of the sixth inning. This was Sanchez’s third home run of the season and gave the Padres a 4-0 lead. The Padres went on to win the game, managing to shut out the Giants. What a way to start the series at AT&T Park.
Sanchez finished 3-for-4 with two RBI and a home run Monday night.
The former Giants catcher played back-up to Buster Posey, but was allowed to leave to play for the White Sox and was eventually claimed by the Padres in mid-May, when they moved left-handed pitcher Robbie Erlin to the 60-day DL. Sanchez made only 18 plate appearances with the Padres till he was designated for assignment in June to make room for Ryan Schimpf and was later sent to Triple-A El Paso after surprisingly clearing waivers.
Sanchez did not allow the demotion to the minor bother him as he put up a slash line of .324/.392/.636 while slugging 13 homers and driving in 40 runs in 176 at bats. He played first and shared catching duties with Austin Hedges. The Venezuelan born switch hitter seemed to figure it out offensively and at the age of 26, we might still see some growth from him.
He was recalled at the beginning of this month after catcher Christian Bethancourt was placed on the disabled list with an ab injury. In his return to the starting lineup against the Atlanta Braves, he went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the loss.
The Padres have four decent catchers – Bethancourt, Sanchez, Derek Norris and Austin Hedges. However, each of them have their ups and downs and none really seem to be so certain on who should be behind the plate.
Sanchez is sure hitting better than Norris, who is hitting below .200. Sanchez may see more playing time as the Padres continue to see what the young man has. He currently has 13 hits with three home runs and 8 RBI. His batting average is .250 with an OBP of .318 and OPS of .743. In his last seven games, he’s had two hits and an average of .143, but with more time in the lineup, his numbers could grow. With Bethancourt’s injury the Padres need to give him a chance.
As Austin Hedges is currently in the minors the Padres catching situation is surely complicated. That is a good thing though. A.J. Preller will surely make a move or two and take advantage of the fact the Padres have depth at a position many teams need help in.
Bethancourt was acquired by the Braves earlier in the season and has been doing well defensively and offensively for the Padres, but again, he lacks consistency. Derek Norris is in a terrible funk. Yes, he is an All-Star but with the slump he is currently falling into, his starting job is on the line for the future.
But for now, Sanchez is someone to keep an eye out for as he looks to be turning the corner as a major league backstop.