WASHINGTON -- Freddy Sanchez's 2012 season has ended before it started. His career with the Giants, and perhaps as an active Major Leaguer, also could be over.
Sanchez, San Francisco's oft-injured second baseman, underwent surgery Thursday to have part of a disk removed from his back. The one-year, $6 million contract extension he received last year expires after this season. That, combined with the 34-year-old's health issues, makes it unlikely that the Giants will retain him.
"We still remain optimistic that we can have him," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "But this is a definite, now, that he won't be back this year."
Sanchez's latest and perhaps final round of health-related woes began on June 10, 2011, when he dislocated his right shoulder while diving for a batted ball in a game against Cincinnati at AT&T Park. Sanchez underwent surgery to repair his labrum and rotator cuff on Aug. 1 and expressed optimism about being ready for the start of this season. But he never played an inning in the field during Spring Training. Ultimately, his back trouble became as much of a problem as his shoulder.
Sanchez also required left shoulder surgery on Dec. 7, 2010, and arthroscopic left knee surgery on Sept. 30, 2009, to repair a torn meniscus. Thursday's procedure, performed by Dr. Robert Watkins, is known as a microdiskectomy.
Many Giants fans will remember Sanchez not for his ailments, but for his feats down the stretch of the 2010 National League West race and in the postseason. After batting .371 in his final 31 regular-season games, Sanchez went only 2-for-16 in the Division Series against Atlanta, but one of those hits was crucial. His two-strike, two-out single in Game 3 prolonged the ninth inning and helped the Giants claim a 3-2 victory, giving them a 2-1 lead in the series.
"He certainly played a critical role with that base hit," Bochy said. "It would have been a lot tougher had we lost that game. That obviously was one of the bigger hits in that postseason."
Sanchez also became the first player in history to double in each of his first three World Series plate appearances as the Giants triumphed, 11-7, in Game 1 against the Texas Rangers.
The NL batting champion with a .344 average in 2006 for Pittsburgh, Sanchez joined the Giants as a Trade Deadline acquisition on July 29, 2009, in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Tim Alderson. Sanchez's injuries limited him to 25 games with the Giants the rest of that season. He followed that with 111 games in 2010 and 60 games last year.
Sanchez owns a career .297 batting average, including .290 in 196 games with the Giants.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.