AA Star Jonathan Sanchez Moved to Bullpen

The Giants made a surprise move on Monday, moving rising star Jonathan Sanchez out of the starting rotation and into the bullpen at Double-A. While the move comes while the Giants major league bullpen is ranked dead last in the majors in ERA, the move is more than just an evaluation for a quick callup.

On Monday night in Connecticut, the Defenders brought Jonathan Sanchez out in relief, after Sanchez had been a stud in the rotation.  Sanchez had a 0.55 ERA in 3 starts, but in relief, he gave up 3 runs on 2 hits, a walk, and a hit batsman, and only got two outs before being removed, shooting his ERA up to 2.12.  The move immediately brought up memories of the Giants moving Merkin Valdez to relief while he was excelling as a starter in AA back in 2004, in an attempt to move him to the Major League bullpen that General Manager Brian Sabean later described as an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle.  However, Monday’s move appears to be a different situation.

“We want to evaluate his [Sanchez’s] comfort level with pitching in that role,” Bobby Evans, the Giants Director of Player Personnel, said when asked about the motivation behind moving Sanchez to the bullpen.  “We got to see a little bit of that this winter in Puerto Rico and it was a position he excelled at, and knowing that he pitched this winter we do want to monitor his innings this season.  But we also want to evaluate him for pitching at a higher level.”  He also added, “He did well this winter, so it’s not like it’s really a test for him, it’s more of an opportunity to see it first hand.”

Evans and SFDugout.com did not discuss the immediate Major League situation specifically, but Evans did indicate that this move is being made with situations at higher levels in mind.  “Having our pitchers at the minor league level pitch in certain roles gives us an ability to prepare them to pitch higher.  Sometimes the greater need might be at a higher level in the bullpen as opposed to as a starter.  So you just have to give guys opportunities to try different roles.”

This assessment also may not last very long, depending on Sanchez’s performance Monday and beyond.  “It’s one of those things that we’re just getting a look at it, but it may not be something we do over the course of a season, it’s just something that we’re trying for now.”  Evans did indicate, however, that further adjustments could be made at any time.  “This may be very short term, he may be back in the rotation before your article comes out,” he told SFDugout.com on Tuesday afternoon.

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