Juan Sandoval was just a regular minor leaguer with the Seattle Mariners, who had a dream to pitch in the big leagues. In 2005, at the age of 24, Sandoval had made it to AA and had seemed to be close to living his dream.
Then, on February 4, 2006 Sandoval was sitting at a restaurant in his native Dominican Republic, when a man had an argument with a bouncer and fired a shotgun. Some of the pellets from the blast ended up lodged in Sandoval’s right eye, causing him to lose his sight.
It would have been easy for Sandoval to give up on his baseball career that day, but after years of pitching for many teams at a ton of different levels, he is now in Spring Training with the Tampa Bay Rays, and impressing a lot of people. Manager Joe Maddon says, “Juan has been really interesting so far. He throws a heavy sinker, he’s got a nice slider. He’s got a good, live arm. I’m impressed.”
Sandoval has been reported to be consistently throwing in the mid 90’s, couple that with a good sinker and slider combination, and there may just be a spot for him in the big leagues. While it seems unlikely that he will make the team out of camp, it appears that he will have a job in AAA waiting for him, and as long as he continues to perform, will likely be on Tampa Bay’s roster at some point this season. This should be a very interesting story to follow, and I for one hope it works out the best for him.