But while we’re waiting for that: Lots of MLB players these days wear their uni number on their belt. But Angels pitcher Patrick Sandoval has something more unusual going on: He wears other players’ numbers on his belt.
Sandoval’s waistline stylings were unremarkable for the first month or so of the season. He wore a plain red belt, with no uni number, for his first five starts of 2023, on April 1, April 7, April 14, April 20, and April 26.
Things began changing on May 2. On that date, Sandoval suddenly had a number on his belt — it just wasn’t his number. Instead of his own No. 43, he had No. 48 on the belt loop:
For his next start, on May 8, Sandoval went back to wearing a blank belt. But he was belt-numbered again on May 14 — only this time it was No. 54:
Since the beginning of May, Sandoval has appeared in 11 games. He has worn No. 48 in five of those games:
In another three games, he has worn No. 54:
And for the remaining three games, he wore plain, unnumbered belts:
Since you’re probably wondering: No. 48 on the Angels is pitcher Reid Detmers, who’s been on the active roster all season long; No. 54 is pitcher José Suarez, who’s been on the injured list since May 8. So I suppose wearing Suarez’s number could be a gesture of support for an injured teammate, but that wouldn’t explain why Sandoval has also been wearing Detmers’s number. Speaking of which, does Detmers wear Sandoval’s number? Nope — he wears his own number:
Similarly, Suarez wore his own number before he went down with his injury (and his No. 54 was on a red loop, while Sandoval’s No. 54 has been on a black loop):
Back in mid-May, when all of this was beginning to unfold, I contacted the Angels and asked a spokesman about it. He said that Sandoval just liked wearing Detmers’s and Suarez’s belts. I replied, “Okay, but why does he like doing it? What’s the point behind it?” No response. I’ve followed up a few more times since then and have finally accepted the reality that the spokesman is not going to explain this for me, which is why I’ve now gone ahead and written this post. If anyone knows more, do tell. Thanks.
Has Sandoval ever worn his own uni number on his belt? Yes — in the World Baseball Classic:
As far as I can tell, though, he’s never worn No. 43 on his belt in an MLB game.
Sandoval’s next start is scheduled for tonight, at home against the Yankees. I’ll be watching.