SCOTTSDALE — As he passed through the clubhouse Tuesday morning, Bruce Bochy noticed Hector Sanchez sitting at his locker giving an interview. The two smiled while they talked about their reunion, but when Sanchez’s incredible success against the Giants came up, Bochy shook his head and made a sour face. He laughed as he muttered a few choice words.
“Come on, you know you love me!” Sanchez yelled.
This season, Bochy will love having Sanchez back on this side of an NL West matchup, regardless of whether he’s in Triple-A or the Majors. The 28-year-old catcher returned on a minor league deal after spending two years terrorizing his old teammates. Last season, Sanchez hit four homers in 30 at-bats against the Giants but just four against every other team combined. Over the last two seasons, he was 13-for-35 against the Giants, with five homers (he hit 10 total in five seasons with the Giants), 14 RBI and a 1.246 OPS.
The blasts were meaningful, too. With the Padres trailing by two in the ninth inning on April 30, Sanchez hit a game-tying homer off Mark Melancon. The Padres would go on to win in the 11th inning. On July 15, Sanchez crushed a Steven Okert slider into the Western Metal Supply building at Petco Park for a two-run walk-off homer. Sanchez even took former Giants deep. He hit one off Sergio Romo in the ninth inning of a game against the Dodgers in June.
So … why did Hector Sanchez enjoy crushing his former teammates so much?
“Everybody was asking me if it was something that I had against the Giants, but it wasn’t,” he said. “I was just trying to do my job. You guys know me. I’m just going up there trying to do my job. The one thing that helped was I did get the opportunity to play against the Giants a lot, and it’s nice doing well when you get to play against your brothers.”
Padres manager Andy Green certainly took advantage of the odd results. Sanchez’s five starts and 31 plate appearances against the Giants were his most against any team. Whatever the motivation was, it worked. Bobby Evans called in the offseason and Sanchez immediately told his agent he wanted to return to the team that made him Buster Posey’s primary backup from 2012 to 2014. There’s no room at the big league level, but Sanchez will likely team with Trevor Brown in Sacramento to give the organization two experienced options in the minors.
“It was my dream to finish my career here,” Sanchez said. “My mindset when I first signed my contract was to be a Giant forever. It’s a great feeling to see these guys again.”
On his first day back, Sanchez said he had already taken some ribbing about the damage he did from the other dugout.
“Everybody is talking to me about it and having fun with it,” he said. “I’ll try to do it against other teams now.”