CHICAGO -- Hector Sanchez used to joke about the inexplicable number of foul tips that ricocheted off his body, but the situation has gotten so serious that Sanchez's fourth big-league season may be over.
The backup catcher was diagnosed with a second concussion after taking another foul tip off the mask during a rehab game for the Fresno Grizzlies on Saturday. Sanchez was originally put on the disabled list July 26 because of a concussion that occurred on a ball off his mask. The Giants will wait for doctors to make a final decision, but they are not expecting Sanchez to play again this season.
"There has to be (that concern) with this being his second one, but we'll know in the next few days after we see how he responds and the progress he makes," manager Bruce Bochy said. "You have to think of the player's well-being and what's right. This is going to take some time with Hector."
Sanchez received a new mask last week and was wearing it in the Grizzlies game, but it didn't change the end result when he got out of his crouch to reach for an elevated fastball. He now has two concussions in less than a month, and he previously had at least one serious one during his minor league career. The Giants are concerned about the ones that may have gone unnoticed.
"What you don't know, as we all learned in (Mike) Matheny's case, is how many times it happened in the minor leagues, or winter ball, or in a major league game, and the guy just wrote it and never said a word," general manager Brian Sabean said. "It was 'part of the job, part of the position.' Now there's more education and more people are in the know and understanding."
Matheny, now the St. Louis Cardinals manager, was never able to recover from a series of foul tips late in his career. He retired in 2007. Sabean said it is premature to talk about a potential position change for Sanchez. He has hit just .196 this season, but the Giants still believe in his potential at the plate. Sanchez is just 24 years old, is a switch-hitter and has flashed power potential.
Scouts who follow the Giants remain intrigued by his potential as a big league catcher and believe he is a far better hitter than he has shown. Any next step may have to come next season, though. The focus at the moment is on making sure Sanchez gets back to 100 percent, even if it takes a few months off for him to reach that point.
"There's a real-life concern — our concern, and he should be very concerned," Sabean said. "We'll do what we did with (Brandon) Belt. We'll be methodical about further testing and continuing to evaluate him."
The Giants were instrumental in the push for changes to catcher collision rules. Sabean said he expects the sport to look into another issue for catchers: The increased number of concussions.
"I'm sure Major League Baseball, because of front office concerns, managerial concerns, medical concerns, will have to take a hard look at this," he said. "What is it? Is it the pitching that has changed? Are there more foul balls instead of balls in play? I don't have the answer. There's clearly a common theme there. Guys are getting hit more. But what is it -- equipment, technique, better pitching? I don't know. I'm not an expert."