Juan Sandoval is one of the best players at spring training with the Tampa Bay Rays. Which is pretty amazing considering the fact that he’s a blind MLB pitcher.
Sandoval was blinded in his right eye on February 4, 2006, when a man brought a shotgun to a bar and fired at one of the bouncers. A few of the buckshot pellets ended up lodged in Sandoval’s right eye, taking the MLB pitcher’s sight.
Sandoval could have called it quits right then and there but the 32-year-old baseball player pushed on and could soon land a spot on an MLB team.
Sandoval told Yahoo Sports:
“What happened is not something I’m carrying all the time, wearing on my chest so people can know. I don’t think about it. I’m just a normal player here. I don’t know how many – 50 players here? I’m one of 50 in the clubhouse. I’m a normal person, a normal player. I don’t like coaches or nobody giving me credit – or limits.”
With only one good eye, Sandoval has had to relearn many of the skills that used to come naturally to him. He had to relearn how to field a grounder, how to catch a routine throw from the catcher, and how to hit. But the Santo Domingo player has now remastered his skills and is ready to join the big leagues.
The road has been a little tougher for Sandoval than others with big league dreams but the 32-year-old pitcher said that he wouldn’t change anything about his life.
Sandoval told the Tampa Bay Times:
“Being honest with you, if I could change something that happened in my life, I would not change anything … Everything that has happened has made me the person that I am right now. And I’m a really happy person …This opportunity is something I was dreaming of. And I’m here.”
Sandoval has been playing in the Mexican leagues for the last few years and, according to Rays manager Joe Maddon, the only reason has hasn’t been signed to an MLB team is his eye. The Rays haven’t made a decision yet but they aren’t against the idea of taking a chance on Sandoval.
Maddon told the Tampa Bay Times:
“It’s incredible. He’s got a really good arm. And I’m so impressed with his ability; you watch his balance, his delivery, his finish. And it looks like his command is really good. I’m certain the fact that he’s 32 and has been blinded in one eye probably kept him out of pro ball for a while. … (But) I haven’t seen anything that would suggest to me he would not be able to do this. It’s interesting to observe.”
In 2012, Sandoval had an ERA of 2.97 over 67 games. The minor league pitcher threw 57 strikeouts and allowed 69 hits.
Do you think Sandoval will make it to the big leagues?