In one of the best stories of the spring, partially blind Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Juan Sandoval is in camp and hoping to win a spot on the major league roster. Sandoval lost the use of his right eye in 2006 when an angry drunk returned to the bar that he had just been kicked out of and fired a shotgun. Sandoval was in the bar and remembers the shot as being loud and furious. After the blast, he had three buckshot pellets lodged in his eye.
His sight after the blast? “Black,” he told Yahoo Sports. “Nothing but black.”
“What happened is not something I'm carrying all the time, wearing on my chest so people can know,” Sandoval said. “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.”
After losing half of his eyesight, Sandoval had to relearn how to catch and field using just one eye. His depth perception was thrown completely out of whack and his left eye had to work harder than ever just for him to make it through his daily life, never mind the rigors of being a professional baseball player.
The 32-year-old is still a long shot to make the team, but the fact that he is even competing for a roster spot is a testament to just how hard he has worked and how much natural skill he really does possess.
Sandoval is getting his chance at the big leagues after being noticed by Rays pitcher Joel Peralta during the Dominican Professional Baseball League season. Peralta saw that Sandoval was easily hitting 94 mph and that his sinker was generating a ton of ground balls, the way a good sinker should.
If Sandoval is able to make the team, it will prove that, for baseball at least, his right arm is more important than his right eye. Even if he doesn’t make the Rays’ roster, his story is still an inspiration.
Source: (Yahoo Sports)