Fouling a ball off your leg probably hurts more than simply getting hit by a pitch. Of course, the batter doesn't get a free base for a self-inflicted wound. All he gets is another pitch to swing at.
Life in baseball must have felt twice as unfair to Hector Sanchez on Sunday after the San Francisco Giants backup catcher fouled a ball off his left leg not once, but twice — on consecutive pitches — by Cubs left-hander Travis Wood in bottom of the seventh inning. Ow and ow again. As quoted by reporter Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Hector has a huge bump from the second foul tip. "I've got two knees right now."
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) June 3, 2012
After the first foul, which hit just above his ankle, Sanchez needed a full minute just to get to his feet. The old sports adage when it comes to pain — "Just rub some dirt on it" — applies double to catchers, though Sanchez appeared ready to leave the game and head for the infirmary. But trainer Dave Groeschner came out, rubbed the wound, stalled for more time and, after about 2 1/2 minutes, Sanchez was back in the box, ready to swing.
And he did it again.
This time, the contact came higher up, closer to his knee. He hopped around wearing an expression that was a cross between agony and "Can you believe this?"
Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly, a former catcher, made a joke after saying he hadn't see it happen before:
"At least with a catcher, you know you're not going to be losing any speed."
TV cameras caught a glimpse of Buster Posey, who had been leading off second base. After starting the game as San Francisco's first baseman, would he have to put on catcher's gear the rest of the way? What a pain that would be, figuratively. Also, it's happened before, players breaking their own leg by fouling off a pitch. But our man Sanchez wouldn't be that unlucky. He persevered and stayed in the game. And to prevent lightning from striking thrice, the Giants handed him a plastic shin guard to protect his instep, and Sanchez bound it to his leg. Now what are the chances of him fouling a pitch off his leg for a third straight time?
More Brenly, mocking the Giants:
"The horse is already gone, so let's close the barn door now."
Wood threw the next pitch in the dirt, and Sanchez reflexively pulled his leg out of the way. He fouled the next pitch into the stands and ended his at-bat with a fly out. Fans at AT&T Park already had encouraged Sanchez to stay in the game, but they gave him extra applause as he jogged (with a limp) off the field. And he stayed long enough to catch the final out of the Giants' 2-0 victory.