SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Tim Lincecum wasn’t the only member of the Giants battery playing catch-up Tuesday night.
Hector Sanchez is quite a bit behind schedule this spring, too.
The Giants’ switch-hitting backup catcher had received just 14 innings all spring because of a shoulder issue, followed up by a tight calf. He caught seven innings Tuesday night but committed a throwing error, was charged with a passed ball, went 0-for-3 with an ugly three-swing strikeout against the Padres’ Freddy Garcia and then didn’t look great running down the line in his final at-bat.
“He had a rough one, to be honest,” Bochy said. “He didn’t look comfortable catching or swinging the bat. I’ll have to check on him. It looked like his calf muscle might have cramped up again.”
Bochy said Sanchez’s throwing drills would ramp up in the next week, but the arm strength appears to have returned. The bigger question: Could the backup catcher job become an open competition? Guillermo Quiroz appears to have solid receiving skills, and you can’t sneeze at the way Tyler La Torre is playing for Italy in the World Baseball Classic. (La Torre caught nine different pitchers over nine innings in the loss to Team USA last week.)
“We’ve got to keep it competitive,” Bochy said. “That’s the best way to go. There’s no jobs given out here and these guys know it.”
But the manager said he wouldn’t make any final judgments on Sanchez just yet. It's clear that he'd have to be either injured or really lost on the field to get optioned to Fresno.
“He did a good job last year,” Bochy said. “He’s behind right now. He’s been working hard to get his weight where we wanted it. He’s done a good job of that. He’s just behind on playing time.”
Lincecum made his second start of the spring, and for the second time, it began with a throwing error from second baseman Kensuke Tanaka.
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Later in the game, Tanaka fielded another grounder, and after four crow hops, still nearly took Buster Posey off the first base bag with his throw.
Bochy said he didn’t think the throwing was starting to get in Tanaka’s head. He said it’s been an adjustment for the former star with the Nippon Ham Fighters, since he’s been working out at shortstop and third base.
“I know he’s a good defender,” said Bochy, “and that’s not him.”
Jeremy Affeldt and Angel Pagan faced off in the WBC on Tuesday, with Affeldt getting his Giants teammate to fly out to right field.
A strikeout, and we’d have been forced to hear about it for the next five months. A fly out might get us just a couple weeks of bragging in the clubhouse.
Team USA won, David Wright hit a three-run double, and they really should play the theme from “The Greatest American Hero” for his walk-up music this season.