Will someone please make this into an inspirational baseball movie?
Juan Sandoval, a 32-year-old right-handed reliever from the Dominican Republic, is at spring training with the Tampa Bay Rays. But unlike most major league hopefuls, a 2006 shooting left Sandoval blind in one eye.
According to Jeff Passan's profile for Yahoo! Sports, three shotgun pellets landed in Sandoval's right eye after a drunken man shot up a club seven years ago. Though he can't see anything out of that eye and has absolutely no depth perception, Sandoval is still aiming for the big leagues.
"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."
Sandoval spent some time in the minors and a couple of seasons in the Mexican League before pitcher Joel Peralta recommended him to Rays VP Andrew Friedman.
"I told him this could be pretty good," Peralta told the Tampa Bay Times in a Friday profile of Sandoval. "But I told him this is the catch: He's only got one eye."
Sandoval is a "long shot" to make it out of spring training with the Rays, according to Passan, though he does have a shot at something bigger if he does well at the Triple-A level.
"If he pitched the way he did in winter ball in the Dominican and down in Mexico, he's going to do some good things for this team," Peralta said. "Not because he's my friend. Not because it's taken him so long to get here. Because he is that good. My present is going to be when he makes it to the big leagues."