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Pirates catching prospect Sanchez injured in offseason scuffle

Rob Biertempfel
| Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012

Tony Sanchez, the Pirates' top catcher prospect, again got into hot water with the team when he sustained a broken jaw in a bar brawl earlier this offseason.

Sources told the Tribune-Review the fight happened about three months ago while Sanchez, 23, was participating in the Florida Instructional League. No police charges were filed.

Sanchez did not return a phone call and text messages from the Tribune-Review. As a policy, Pirates management does not comment even in general terms about player misconduct and discipline.

When asked specifically about Sanchez's incident, assistant general manager Kyle Stark, who oversees player development, said, "Consistent with our approach in off-field matters, we view these as private situations for the player and not our place to comment."

General manager Neal Huntington also refused to elaborate.

"Tony continues to develop as a player," Huntington said. "As with any young player, there are good days and days when we need to make adjustments. We are expecting Tony to come into spring training ready to go and ready to have a great season."

Sanchez appeared to be fully healthy three weeks ago as he worked out at the team's minicamp in Bradenton, Fla. Sanchez will be a non-roster invitee in spring training camp, which begins Feb. 19.

Baseball America rated Sanchez the Pirates' seventh-best prospect this year. He was the team's first-round draft pick (fourth overall) in 2009 and signed for $2.5 million.

Sanchez missed most of the 2010 season after he was twice hit by pitches that broke his jaw. Last season, he got off to a slow start and batted .241. He also regressed defensively.

"Tony has dealt with some adversity in his career," Huntington said.

In May, Sanchez drew the ire of the Pirates and the Double-A Eastern League by posting critical comments about an umpire on Twitter. Sanchez was benched for three games and also deactivated his Twitter account.

Notes: As part of a three-year extension of their corporate partnership, Anheuser-Busch and the Pirates this season will open the "Budweiser Bowtie Bar" on the main concourse of PNC Park. The lounge will overlook right field. Construction is expected to cost between $500,000 and $1 million, and is slated to be completed by Opening Day. Budweiser has been a corporate sponsor of the Pirates since PNC Park opened in 2001.

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