After suffering from setback after setback, infielder Freddy Sanchez should probably call it a career and retire. He has not appeared in a Major League Baseball game since June 10 of last year, and there is little hope he will return any time soon. The San Francisco Giants are paying him $6.0 million this season to do absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, we might not see him man second base or any other position in 2012 or beyond.
San Francisco is currently using Charlie Culberson at second base, but other options include Emmanuel Burriss and Ryan Theriot. Sadly, second basemen for the team have combined for some excruciatingly horrid results. Various players are hitting a cumulative .194/.243/.201 with 0 home runs and 6 runs batted in through this point. Undoubtedly, the results could be a lot better with a healthy return for Sanchez, but that may never come to fruition.
Originally, Sanchez was expected to start the regular season with the Giants coming into Spring Training. Those hopes were quickly dashed when he failed to take the field and only served as a designated hitter or pinch hitter during exhibition games. The next plan would have seen him healthy and ready to play in the middle of May, but that plan was axed long before the first day of the month. Of course, his latest setback means there is virtually no timetable for his return.
Sanchez is set to become a free agent after the end of this regular season. Without a doubt, the Giants are not going to re-sign him unless he takes the field sometime soon. Even an inkling of hope could result in a one-year contract for the minimum or a simple minor league deal. Seeing him on the field in 2012 looks like a stretch at this point though. For that reason, the odds are against him should he desire to play within the next few moths or even in 2013.
Across his career, Sanchez sports a respectable .748 OPS and even led the league in batting average back in 2006. His defense at second always looked great as evidenced by his .990 fielding percentage there. He even managed a handful of All-Star nods over his 10-season career. Injuries have always been and continue to be his biggest problem. In fact, he last played over 111 games way back in 2008, so health is not his biggest asset. Over three seasons, his name has been absent in the lineup for the Giants quite a few times.
Obviously, Sanchez is still working to make a comeback as soon as possible, but he probably should stop trying. His shoulder is pretty shot at this point, and reports say that he is having trouble making double play throws efficiently. No team is going to use him as anything other than a second baseman after this season, so his opportunities are severely limited in that case. Also, his offensive production is probably nowhere near decent after all this time away from the game. More than likely, he will realize that the benefits of trying to make a return are far outweighed by the consequences to his health.
The San Francisco Giants are highly unlikely to see Freddy Sanchez take the field in 2012. In a best-case scenario, he could return in June or July, but that seems like a stretch too. This infielder has always been strong on defense and average to slightly above average at the plate. His career will likely go down as one that was dogged by injuries, which is exactly what has happened. Yes, Sanchez is only 34 years-old, so he could potentially make a return at some point. Still, that journey has been and will continue to be a difficult one. Perhaps calling it a career is the best option for him at this point.
Errick D. Williams is a lifelong fan of the San Francisco Giants who has attended over 200 games at AT&T Park. He lives in San Diego but regularly travels back up to the Bay Area to catch a game with friends and family members.
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