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Pirates call up Tony Sanchez for 'taxi squad'

| Saturday, May 11, 2013, 11:47 a.m.

NEW YORK — It's a 10-minute cab ride from LaGuardia Airport to Citi Field, but Tony Sanchez had enough time to be awestruck.

Sanchez, the Pirates' first-round pick in 2009, was called up Saturday to be on the “taxi squad” in case catcher Russell Martin (sore neck) winds up on the disabled list. The Pirates have until 10:10 a.m. Sunday to decide whether to put Sanchez on their active roster or send him back to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Sanchez walked into the clubhouse Saturday morning about two hours before the Pirates were slated to play the New York Mets. His eyes already were wide.

“I don't really know how to deal with this kind of a day,” he said. “They told me yesterday and I was kind of like, ‘Holy (heck).' It's really exciting. Driving in to the stadium is surreal. You look around and say, ‘whoa.' It's a big place, much bigger than what I'm used to playing in.”

Martin's neck locked up Tuesday during pregame warmups. He said it's not a muscular problem.

“It's something in the joint itself,” Martin said Friday. “When it happened, it felt like my whole neck just ... collapsed.”

Martin was in the lineup Thursday, but was unable to play Friday.

“I wondered how my neck would respond to playing,” said Martin, sitting stiffly at his locker and grimacing at the slightest movement. “After a couple of days' rest, I should be OK. I am not going on the DL. I don't think it will be that long.”

If Saturday's game against the Mets had been rained out, it could have led to a doubleheader Sunday. If that had happened, the Pirates would have activated Sanchez rather than have Michael McKenry catch two games on the same day.

“I've done it before, if you count the two 19-inning games,” said McKenry, referring to the marathons against the Braves in 2011 and the Cardinals last year.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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