Shadows of Shea: Duaner Sánchez

Shadows of Shea: Duaner Sánchez

by Nick Giacone January 31, 2019 0 Comments

Welcome back to another offseason series of ‘Shadows of Shea’. Once again, we’ll use this time to reminisce about past Mets players; the obscure guys, the forgotten ones. Remember, whether they contributed to a playoff run or just simply serve as an answer to a Howie Rose trivia question, they are as part of Mets history as Seaver and Piazza. Next up, the hopeful, yet unfortunate career of Duaner Sánchez.


Duaner Sánchez

Position: Pitcher

Mets Years: 2006-2008 


As a Met...

How’s pitching 18 scoreless innings in 15 games for a debut? That’s how Duaner Sánchez started the 2006 season and his Mets career.

The Mets acquired him via trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers after he posted impressive 2004 and 2005 campaigns as a reliever and fill-in closer. After spending his first few seasons being sent around the MLB, it seemed Sánchez had finally found a home in Flushing, Queens. Sánchez was the setup man for fearless closer Billy Wagner, creating a nice one-two punch to close out games. With 49 appearances logged in the 2006 season, Sánchez was pitching to the tune of a 5-1 record and an ERA of 2.60. The Mets had their setup man of the future, and were bolstering the best bullpen in the National League.

Then came the tragedy. In the early hours of July 31st, right before the 2006 trade deadline, Sánchez met his cousin and friend to grab a late night meal in Miami. On their way to the restaurant, a drunk driver crashed into their taxi, causing an accident in which Sánchez separated his shoulder. Right after the crash, Sánchez flew back to New York to receive season-ending surgery to repair the shoulder. The Mets lost their setup man, leading them to make a series of unexpected moves in the remaining hours of the trade deadline to stay in contention. Furthermore, Sánchez would have a long road to recovery and never regain his elite form.

The Mets agreed to retain Sánchez for the 2007 season, but further injuries to his shoulder prevented him from making a single appearance. He recovered for the 2008 season, but struggled to find his form in his return. He appeared in 66 games, and although he turned in another 5-1 record, his ERA rose to a disappointing 4.32. Sánchez returned to the Mets for Spring Training in 2009, but failed to secure a roster spot. His days as the Mets’ dominant setup man were over.


After the Mets

After his departure from Queens, Sánchez landed one final opportunity with the San Diego Padres in 2009. Sadly, he only made 12 relief appearances before being released and eventually retiring from the MLB. Sanchez finished his abridged big-league career with a record of 19-11 and an ERA of 4.10 in 288 appearances. He pitched for five MLB teams, never appearing in more than two seasons for any of them.

Sánchez would stay in baseball for a couple of more seasons, trying to keep his career afloat in Canadian and Mexican leagues. He appeared in 39 games across the two aforementioned leagues, posting an ERA of 3.69. The following year, Duaner would play his final season of baseball, appearing in nine games for the Long Island Ducks of the Independent Atlantic League.


Where are they now?

Duaner is still involved with baseball and works as an anchor and analyst for Fox Deportes. You can see him in action HERE

Sánchez will forever be ingrained in the minds of Mets fans. Ultimately, what’s most important is that Sánchez and his crew came away from the 2006 car crash with their lives. I’m sure Duaner will tell you the same thing. But looking beyond that, us Mets fans start the dangerous “what if...” game.

Duaner could have made the difference in those fateful late 2000s seasons. Could the Mets have made the World Series in 2006 had Sánchez kept up his elite pace? Could Sánchez have accounted for one or two extra wins in the 2007 and 2008 seasons where the Mets came just short of the playoffs? We’ll never know. What we do know is that in one moment we had a dominant setup man in Duaner Sánchez, and then in the next we didn’t. Call it a curse, call us snakebitten, or just call it bad luck. Sometimes that’s just the way life goes.

Previously:




Nick Giacone
Nick Giacone

Author

T7L contributing blogger - Follow Nick on Twitter




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