Thursday, September 9, 2010
#725) DUANER SANCHEZ
Duaner Sanchez joined the New York Mets when he was traded along with Steve Schmoll from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Jae Seo and Tim Hamulack on January 4, 2006. The right-handed reliever was acquired to be the set-up man for closer, Billy Wagner.
A Dominican Republic native who wore goggles while pitching. "I am a different person when I'm on the mound," Duaner explained. "I know I look different, and that's O.K. with me. Doesn't bother me at all." The eyewear were necessary once Sanchez learned he needed corrective lenses and struggled with contacts. At night he would wear clear Kaenon googles because he liked how they looked, but change to tinted ones during day games.
Duaner pitched very well for the Mets during the first half of the 2006 season. He appeared in 49 games with a 5-1 record and 2.60 ERA. Establishing himself as a crucial member of the New York bullpen until tragedy struck on July 31st. Sanchez was a taxi cab passenger on interstate 95 when a Ford Crown Victoria cut across three lanes of traffic. The car collided with his cab and sent it spinning into a concrete road barrier. Duaner used his right arm to brace for the blow. "I sat down right in the middle of the freeway and tried to push it down. It just didn't work," Sanchez recalls about his futile attempt to adjust his shoulder, which had become dislocated. "Actually I didn't see the impact when we got hit with the car. But I saw we were going to impact the wall, so I put up my arm. When I put up my arm, I took all the hit in my arm, so it just popped out."
The Mets were forced to make a desperate move knowing they were to lose Duaner for the remainder of the season. While keeping the accident secret, they dealt outfielder Xavier Nady to Pittsburgh for Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez at the major-league trading deadline that same night. Later also adding pitcher, Guillermo Mota from Cleveland.
Following surgeries and a long rehabilitation the determined Sanchez returned to the Mets on April 15, 2008. He threw a scoreless ninth-inning during the team's 6-0 victory over the Washington Nationals at Shea Stadium. Prior to the game Duaner had told reporters, "It feels like my first day in the big leagues." The reliever would finish his second season in New York with a 5-1 record, but a higher 4.32 ERA.
Duaner Sanchez signed his card in the set for my friend, Chris when the Sussex Skyhawks visited the New Jersey Jackals at Yogi Berra Stadium on August 20, 2010.