Pinch-blogging: El Iman! The Magnet!

The Brandons seemed to have a lot of fun with their pinch-bloggers, so I asked Hector Sanchez to fill in today. I asked him a few questions about things I thought you might want to know. We taped the answers, and here they are.

Why did you become a catcher?

I was a third baseman, but my agent said I wasn’t fast enough or good enough at third to make it as a professional. He said maybe I should try catching because I had a good arm. I was 15 at the time. I worked on catching for about 6 or 7 months, and I was signed by the Giants as a catcher. They sent me to the team’s baseball academy in the Dominican Republic with other young guys from Latin America.

My first year there, 2006, was embarrassing. I could barely catch the ball. My glove would fly off from the impact of the pitches. The manager there nicknamed me El Iman (pronounced ee-MON). The Magnet. Every ball hit me. I’d be one big bruise at the end of the day. I’d have bags of ice on every part of my body. My glove hand hurt all the time because we used the same cheap mitt all season, and the padding got flattened to a pancake. I’d tape my hands as best I could. To this day, I tape my thumb because it still hurts from being bent back so many thousands of times I was learning the position.

The guys who know me from the Dominican academy, like Adrianza and Jose Casilla, still call me El Iman. Now Gardy (bullpen coach Mark Gardner) does, too. He’ll yell,  “Hey, Iman!’’

After that first season in the Dominican, I knew I had to get better fast. Back home in Venezuela, I just worked and worked with my coaches. I did drills with my hands to learn how to catch the ball softly. I learned block positions. I threw to the bases. I just forgot about hitting and worked only on catching.

The next year, in 2007, I was a different guy when I returned to the Dominican I knew a lot more about what I was doing. And in 2008, when I was 18, I was MVP of our Dominican league.

Was the 11-inning game in Colorado the other day the longest game you’ve ever caught?

            No! The longest I ever caught was 18 innings for San Jose in 2011. The manager asked me in the 12th or 13th inning if I wanted to come out. I said, “No, I feel good!’’ I was having a good game — I had four hits — so I wasn’t coming out. I ran out to my position every inning to show I was good to play. Still, when Stockton’s shortstop bobbled Jarett Parker’s grounder and the winning run scored, I dropped to my knees and looked up at the sky and said, “Thank you!’’

You hit a solo home run and a grand slam in that 11-inning game against Colorado. Were you doing something different at the plate?

Before that, I had been trying to do too much. It’s something that happens especially when you don’t play very much. You put pressure on yourself. Bam-Bam reminded me to relax and to keep my front shoulder closed. That was the big difference. I kept the shoulder closed and I told myself to think just about the pitcher and myself. Forget about the other players. Forget about the fans. Just keep it simple.

It seems funny that the less you try to do, the better you do.

 

Thanks, Hector.

Hope everyone enjoyed hearing from him!

 

37 Comments

Hector! great to read your story. I’ve learned to say your name in Spanish “Ector!” and so when I see someone in town who is latin I can’t help but shout their name out! Gregor thanks for filling us in on real life in the game. blessings on you both.

Really late on this Gregor, but wanted to thank you for having Hector. It’s great to hear more about who you guys are as people and not just as players, and the guys who don’t start every day don’t get as much media.

Thanks for sharing him with us! And thanks for you as well. Love having you on this team, both for your grace and athleticism and for your great attitude. You make a lot of the little things seem so easy, and you are so much fun to watch! Thank you.

I became a fan of Hector’s back when he was ONLY catching Timmy and Zeets.  Talk about getting beat up by the ball! And the backstop.  If the play could only be made by getting black and blue doing it, Hector was your man!  I like the nick “El Iman”.  It’s goofy but affectionate.

I became a fan of Hector’s back when he was ONLY catching Timmy and Zeets.  Talk about getting beat up by the ball! And the backstop.  If the play could only be made by getting black and blue doing it, Hector was your man!  I like the nick “El Iman”.  It’s goofy but affectionate.

Mr. Tiburón Blanco…love you, too!

Thank you for letting Hector guest-blog!

I love reading the blogs by you guys. Happy Hector is finally getting more recognition this year. He is one of my favorite Giants! These were great questions with very informitive answers I didn’t know that Hector used to be a third baseman. Keep up the good work fellas you are both such an important part of this team always stepping up the exact moments when needed. Hope to hear many more blog posts in the future! Good job on the sweep early in the season as well.

Thank you both! I really appreciate the insights and stories from the regular bloggers and the pinch bloggers!

Enjoyed hearing from El Iman very much, especially the details about the rigors of learning to catch a 90-mile-an-hour ball. But also enjoy hearing from you, Blanco. Keep up the stories. I try to listen to every game, when I can get KNBR in Santa Cruz, but the blogs are the icing on the cake.

I love Hector, I will call him ‘eemon’ when you guys visit to LA, I will be sitting right next to your bullpen :)

I love the the pinch bloggers! That was interesting reading about Hector! He’s been doin an awesome job behind the plate as well as at the plate! Thanks Gregor for letting Hector pinch blog! And I just wanna say I love watching you play, Gregor! You can just see how much you love the game! Such a hustler!!! Good luck tonight! Keep up the winning streak!!!!!!!!

Hector is a great Giant – he works hard and is a pleasure to watch. Nice to hear his own words about his early career – Iman – you are not really stuck with that nick name! Keep slammin’ Thanks for taking the time to let us know you personally

Thanks for bringing in someone else Gregor! Not that what you do hasn’t been great, but, as they say, variety is the spice of life! Thanks for Hector for sharing his thoughts and history.

All I got to say is: why don’t the Giants get better gloves for their prospects? Seems like an awful price to pay, having your hand permanently hurt, it seems. Or am I misunderstanding?

You signed a ball for me at Spring Training. I wished you good luck this season and you replied “I still have to earn my spot” – Hector you have earned it and more!!!! Go Giants!

I love the pinch blogging too, thanks Hector!! Blanco, I would totally like to hear from you’re wife too!! Go Giants!!

Hey Hector, thanks for pinch blogging. As much as I like reading Gregor’s blog, I really like hearing from other players too. You’ve been doing really good its fun to watch…good luck to you man!

Gregor! Yes – thanks for asking Hector to pinch-blog! This has been a ton of fun! I just love hearing all the little tidbits from you guys! Keep up the good work! :-)

I love these blogs, i feel like i get to see the game from your perspective and thats really cool! you guys are so much fun to watch.
that was a great game! :D

It’s always fun to see Hector in the game! I’ve kept the recording of his winning 2-run homer against the Nationals last year mostly because of the priceless reaction of one fan in particular, sitting behind home plate, who watched the ball soar while the look on his face plummeted when he realized that Hector had just hit a home run and deprived the Nationals of a sweep. I know there will be more clutch hits for Hector – and, you too Blanco! – throughout this season. GO GIGANTES!!!

Great to hear from Sanchez. I love the player blogs, and the pinch-blogging is a great addition. Congratulations to both of you, you’re doing a great job. Can’t wait to see what you’re doing at the end!

What a wonderful blog Hector, loved hearing from you!WHAT A BEGINNING you had! 👍Keep up the good work,

Love, love, love the pinch blogging! It is wonderful to hear from people about the other side of baseball from the side the public sees -the nine inning game. I enjoy reading how people got to where they are now, and hope to see many more the rest of this season! Of course, seeing grand slams and pinch hits score runs are fantastic, too! I really appreciate what you guys have done to get to the big leagues!

Thank you for the wonderful blogs!

Its awesome to hear from all you guys! Thank you! :) Great job Hector Sanchez! Those hits were cray! :) And Gregor! It is always awesome to watch you play! :)

You have an amazing story. I love it when you get put in the game! Always a thrill!

Awesome job you’re doing, Hector! Thanks for an exciting ending to a wild ride of a game!

We love you Hector! You are an exciting player to watch! Our son’s name is Hector too so watching you play is special for him. He’s in his 3rd year of Little League and learning lots of fundamentals.

Way to go Elman! Love it!

I love all the “pinch bloggers” and learning about how baseball works right from the ballplayers themselves. Congrats on that GS, Hector, and also Gregor, that pinch hit single yesterday. Keep it up, gents, you’re both fun to watch.

Much as I love hearing from our regular bloggers, it’s fun to hear from some of the other guys and the wives as well. Thanks for the insights into what you’ve gone through to get here to SF, Hector. We can see you now as a person and not just the relief catcher for Buster. As Americans, we aren’t familiar with 15yr. olds with agents going to baseball training camps in another country! Here you would be going to high school and playing on your high school team and rec teams for the most part. Did you go to school when you weren’t in the Dominican Republic? It sounds like you really spent a lot of time working to get to where you are now. I bet you are a home town hero. Where is your family now?

It’s good to see you starting to have some great at bats. I’m no expert but that whole shoulder thing must be important as I think that’s the same thing Brandon C mentioned he was working on to improve his hitting performance. Keep up the good work, Hector.

You’re still El Imon. It hurts me every time you get hit with the ball.

Blanco, you are so exciting to watch in the outfield as well as at bat. So many great catches, how do u do it?? You always come through for us! I love all reading all your posts. Hector, loved your post and learning more about you. Thanks for being our hero for the last few games! I love my Giants!

I believe that last statment totally. Life can be a lot like that overall. Just have to figure how to get that even flow-balance between the mores and lesses of life. Great game today today guys! My honey and I along with friends were at game today. Had so much fun. I think it was your solid base hit that changed the games’ flow today-Great game! Always love a win! Keep up the good work. We’ll b back next month. See ya! #1Gamerbabe

Love all the pinch blogging! Thanks for this, Hector. It’s so interesting to hear about all the struggles you had to get to this point in your career. I had no idea you started so young on your way to the big leagues. I really think you are going to have a breakout season. All the folks on KNBR always comment on how much better your catching has gotten. It’s obvious you’ve been working hard at it. And we’ll have to come up with a new, better nickname for you! Also – Gregor – really nice game today!

Great blog! Love hearing from Hector! It’s cool to learn more about his history learning to be a catcher. What a great game in Colorado that was. Keep up the great work, Hector!! You too, Blanco!!! Awesome hit today and steal to get yourself in scoring position. I LOVE watching you run and slide! You’re a very exciting player. Go Giants!! :)

I loved this. I love you both. It was great hearing from Hector. Thanks, Gregor you are the best. EVER.

I loved this! That grand slam was amazing. AMAZING.

Nice, enjoyed the interview and learning more about Sanchez

So excellent to hear from you Hector! I have faith in you. You just get better and better. Keep up the good work!

Thanks Blanco for getting Hector to blog, love hearing from you both. Blanco you had a great hit today. It seems like most players say they are trying to do too much at the plate…I would think it would be hard not to. I appreciate all of you that take the time to blog and connect with your fans!

God Bless you both!

I am really enjoying the pinch bloggers, and it was good to hear from Hector about his early days as a catcher. The fans can see an improvement in his catching even from last year, so the hard work is paying off. Keep at it, Iman!

And Gregor, what a timely hit today! All your hard work is paying off, too, and nobody deserves it more. Stay sharp, because you never know when your time will come!

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