The San Francisco Giants officially welcomed pitchers and catchers to their Scottsdale, Arizona facility on Friday. There wasn’t a whole lot of pertinent activity, as the day generally consisted of players checking in, receiving physicals, and participating in individual workouts. However, there was one rather notable nugget of information in the form of backup catcher Hector Sanchez showing up at nearly 20 pounds lighter than his 2013 weight.
Last spring, the 24-year-old came to camp overweight with soreness in his throwing shoulder he had sustained playing winter ball. As a result, he was only able to catch in four spring training games, and his lack of preparedness both defensively and as a hitter ended up hurting him during most of the regular season. He went 3 for his first 20, and was demoted to Triple-A Fresno on May 3. Though he came back briefly in June, Sanchez didn’t really get back into a groove until later July.
This year, Sanchez seems to be much more devoted to making sure that he’s ready to compete at the highest level. Along with having had the whole winter to get past the shoulder issues, Sanchez is in much better shape. The minor-league assignments less than a year in which he hit .280 and was part of a World Series champion obviously gave him a wake-up call and made him realize that he needed to continually take care of his body if he was going to stay in the majors. Sanchez affirmed that thought Friday, telling Chris Haft of MLB.com that “last year was a learning experience about how I had to be in shape. I had to be ready.”
We’ll see how much offseason conditioning helps out the Giants at the catching position during 2014, as both Sanchez and starter Buster Posey committed to improving their bodies this winter, though Posey added muscle weight. Seeing as both of their struggles last year could be at least slightly attributed to fatigue caused by poor conditioning, a new approach is certainly warranted.